Save 6Music – an open letter to the BBC

When faced with outrage and injustice, most Brits generally respond in one of the following ways:

  1. Mind their own business and hope the problem resolves itself.
  2. Find a queue to join and complain about the weather until they forget what originally annoyed them.
  3. Write a stern letter of complaint.

I chose the latter.

…and got a pre-written response back about how it’s still just a rumour, nothing’s confirmed yet.  But still, it’s the principal that matters here.  I believe that British music is one of the few cultural threads we’ve got left these days, and something worth fighting for.  Moreover, I can’t help but feel that if we let this issue slide, pretty much anything is forfeit in the coming years.  The Rage Against The X-Factor thing was a bit of fun, but arguably this is much more important.

For further details and to show your support please join the facebook group  Save BBC 6Music and write your own letter of complaint.

Dear sir/madam,

I’m writing to complain about the recent announcement to close 6Music, the Asian network, as well as other related cutbacks and layoffs.  Personally I think 6Music is by far one the best radio stations being broadcast in the UK, let alone on the BBC network, and I am confident that it would gain much larger audience figures were it available on FM radio and not just DAB/internet.  Not only would it be a mistake to pull this station from the airwaves, but it would be an outright betrayal to your customers.

To be perfectly frank, I can’t believe you’d even consider this when you’ve managed to recruit so many high profile musicians to DJ the station.  In particular, Guy Garvey’s Finest Hour and Jarvis Cocker’s Sunday Service are exceptional programmes, representing the best of BBC programming, with wide ranging, eclectic playlists.  Likewise, Chris Hawkins’ concerts and sessions programmes are fantastic — fully utilising the (largely wasted) BBC archive.  From what I understand, it’s precisely these kind of programmes that have helped 6Music build not just a dedicated audience here, but a strong, critical reputation overseas as well.

In addition, I’m also very concerned about possible cuts to the BBC internet/web services.  Although not directly related to daily programming, I’ve found the BBC Languages site to be a wonderful resource, and invaluable in helping me learn French. To pull the plug on these and similar services would be a thoughtless and wholly unnecessary mistake.  Likewise, the In Our Time and Woman’s Hour archives are an amazing resource of information, and I would be incredibly disheartened to see them go.

Guy Garvey

Guy Garvey’s Finest Hour – arguably the best music programme on the radio right now.

What’s most troubling, however, is the fact that it’s plainly obvious that these proposed closures and associated layoffs are merely a gesture of good faith towards the Conservative party, in the run up to the election.  More than anything else, I find this incredibly insulting and a betraying.  I have to ask you if this is a stark warning for things to come?  I realise that the economic situation is particularly trying right now — for all of us.  Nevertheless, if the BBC are willing to buckle under the slightest political pressure without defending or even asking for the views of their customers, then I honestly have to ask myself whether they have the licensee’s best interests at heart anymore.

I’m sure there would have been a bigger outcry had you shut down Radio4 or BBC4; but all the same, this action clearly demonstrates that the executives of the BBC have lost interest in everything it used to stand for — a dedication to high quality programming, British culture, impartiality, and representing both majority AND minority interests.  To be blunt, it’s been heading down this path for several years now; however I used to be content paying my tv licence knowing that, even though most of it was being wasted on celebrity presenters, at least some of it was going towards truly worthwhile channels and stations like BBC4, Radio4 and 6music.  However, in light of recent events, I seriously wonder if the BBC wouldn’t be better off funded through advertising and sponsorship, because apparently the license fee is going to be wasted entirely on cheap, disposable, mainstream programming from now on.

I would strongly urge you not to make this tragic mistake.  If the audience figures really are as low as you claim, then perhaps some kind of on demand service can be arranged?  For example, instead of hosting an entire radio station, make the most popular programs available as podcast/iplayer exclusives?

I realise some of this may have been written in anger, but I am, like many listeners, extremely passionate about preserving high quality stations like 6music, and I trust that you will take my views, criticisms, and suggestions seriously.

Yours faithfully,

Jon Hallier

Further reading:

Killing BBC 6 Music would be a slap in the face to licence-payers

BBC to close radio stations, shut half its website and cut staff

Don’t ditch 6 Music