BPI Meeting BBC Trust Over 6 Music Closure
U.K. labels trade body the BPI is meeting with the BBC Trust to express concern about the proposed closure of digital radio station BBC 6 Music.
BPI chief executive Geoff Taylor and label executives are due to meet with chairman Sir Michael Lyons and other members of the BBC Trust today (April 14). The Trust, the governing body of the publicly-funded broadcaster, is holding a public consultation until May 25 on the proposal by BBC management to close modern rock and alternative station 6 Music, as well as the Asian Network.
There has been a united front from majors and indies against the 6 Music closure, and artists such as Lily Allen, Keane and Radiohead have joined calls for the station to be saved. A Facebook group campaigning to save the station has 174,000 members.
Speaking ahead of the Trust meeting, BPI chief executive Geoff Taylor told Billboard.biz that 6 Music is exactly how the BBC should be meeting its public service remit.
“Our message is that 6 Music is unique, that the BBC has the ability to do things that the commercial market can’t and won’t provide, and that 6 Music is an excellent example of how the BBC should fulfill its public service remit towards music,” said Taylor.
“The suggestion that has been made by BBC management that [6 Music programming] could get picked up by other BBC stations and that would somehow fill the same gap, or indeed that the commercial market could do what 6 Music does, we believe is fundamentally wrong and it shows a lack of understanding of the nature of 6 Music.”
Taylor added: “We feel very strongly that there are many bands and artists out there whose music would not get played on other stations and will only get played on stations like 6 Music, and that it is absolutely wrong for a public service organization to be cutting that. We understand that the BBC needs to cut costs and is under pressure to move away from doing things that the commercial market can provide. This is not something that the commercial market does provide.”
Taylor said it is working on “plans for keeping the pressure on” and will take part in the consultation. “Obviously a substantial part of our focus will be on putting a really robust response into that consultation,” he said.
Meanwhile, the BBC’s head of audio and music, Tim Davie, has responded to speculation that 6 Music could be rebranded as Radio 2 Extra by saying there are “no such plans.” He added that 6 Music has been a “hot topic” and “nothing will happen until after the consultation is closed,” but made clear the rebranding idea was not being worked on. There is a proposal to rebrand speech network BBC7 as Radio 4 Extra.
“I said we would look at protecting some 6 Music programming by redeploying it elsewhere and considering how we can also do justice to its legacy in areas like new music development,” he said, referring to a previous post. “This commitment also remains. But simply rebranding 6 Music as Radio 2 Extra is not one of our plans.”
Prime minister Gordon Brown has also voiced support for the 6 Music campaign. “[I] think, personally, that the BBC should not have succumbed to pressure to cut certain things – but they have,” he told the Radio Times.
Asked whether he was in favor of the campaign to save the station, he said: “Yes because it’s the next stage you worry about. The Conservatives have said that they’ll hive off Radio 1. A lot of things that the BBC does are incredibly creative and quite risky. But this is a necessary means of us being a creative society.” His claims about the opposition Conservative Party – made amid a feverish general election campaign – are not in their official party policy.
The 6 Music closure plan was unveiled March 2 following a strategic review, and director-general Mark Thompson said that in future the BBC would “do fewer things better.”
Part of the BBC’s remit includes provision of outlets for new U.K. music. When Billboard.biz put the industry’s concerns to Thompson at the March 2 press conference for the strategic review, he responded: “We will have in [national top 40 station] Radio 1 and [AC network] Radio 2 two popular music U.K.-wide radio stations, and those are the platforms we are going to use in the future to cover as broad a range of popular music and as broad a range of great popular music talent that we can.”