Sunday, March 07, 2010

The closure of BBC Radio6 Music - my thoughts

I'm saddened but not surprised by the BBC's decision to close 6Music. The liberal and plural echo chamber that is Twitter has hummed with indignation on this all week.

I do enjoy listening to Julie Cullen's excellent news podcast and occasionally to the DAB, but it felt like an experiment. I still think sticking it on DAB makes it difficult to reach out to a bigger audience, but also it got Radio 1, Radio 2 and even Radio 3 off the hook and they've ended up less likely to take risks with new music. Mark Thompson has argued that Radio 2 could take up some of the best of 6.

As Broken TV, here, argues, the podcast downloads from iTunes build a different picture of delivery and debunks the popularity argument.

Nigel Smith also puts forward a well constructed view here. On the subject absorbtion by R1 and R2, he says:

It's unlikely that the playlist dominated output on Radio 1 and 2 will ever appeal to 6 Music fans especially if Radio 2 adopts the Strategy Reviews's proposal to commit "to at least 50% speech during daytime". This means that if elements of 6 Music's output do find a new home they'll likely be in "specialist music" slots. The joy of 6 is that you can turn it on at any hour of the day or night and hear a new song you've recently discovered, an old one you've forgotten you loved or something amazing that you've never heard before. Best of all, for the most part you'll be guided to that music by a presenter who's passionate and knowledgeable about what they are playing.

I'm tended to the rather defeatist view that this is the shape of things to come. We are emerging, blinded, from a dark tunnel where we have staggered from the land of plenty into something more frightening and more austere. There are many things, as a nation, we hold dear that we may now have to question and to forfeit. A minority station in a public service broadcasting empire is just one of them.

To end on a lighter note, Nigel Hughes has some helpful suggestions for other sacrifices, here, though I could also add: chauffeurs for Shearer, Hansen, Lawrenson and Dixon.

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