BBC digital station 6Music likely to be saved from closure

The BBC Trust has found that the “case has not been made” for closure of digital radio music station BBC6 in a wide ranging review of the British national broadcaster’s services. The trust has not ruled out cutting the Radio Division’s Asia Network, and has recommended reductions in online expenditure and a refocus on “high quality distinctive” television programs. The review has also recommended that the Radio Division “draw up an overarching strategy for digital radio.”


BBC Trust Chairman Sir Michael Lyons set out the initial conclusions on the BBC Strategy Review this week, alongside the corporation’s annual report and a study on how the broadcaster can make the transition to a fully digital future.

He says the BBC “needs to meet its twin obligations to the public,  to provide distinctive high quality public service content and to use their money wisely.” Lyons stressed that the BBC needs to “accelerate changes in its behaviour, leading to greater clarity about the boundaries it operates within.”


The announcement follows the publication by the BBC Executive last March of an initial set of proposals for the future of the BBC, which the Trust has since consulted on.

In the Radio Division, the following were proposed:

  • Closure of 6 Music.
  • Closure of Asian Network.
  • Radio 2 must become more distinctive with at least 50% of speech during the daytime.
  • Investment in local radio breakfast, mid-morning and drive-time shows – but shared content at other times.
  • 1Xtra and Radio 7 to be aligned more closely with their parent stations (Radio 1 and Radio 4). Radio 7 to be rebranded as Radio 4 Extra.



It now appears BBC 6 Music is unlikely to close, with the Trust concluding:

“As things stand, the case has not been made for the closure of 6 Music. The Executive should draw up an overarching strategy for digital radio. If the Director General wanted to propose a different shape for the BBC’s music radio stations as part of a new strategy, the Trust would consider it. The Trust would consider a formal proposal for the closure of the Asian Network, although this must include a proposition for meeting the needs of the station’s audience in different ways.”


A highly visible campaign against the closure of BBC 6 Music was mounted during the review period, with the Save BBC 6 Music Protest Group   and the 6 Music Independent Listeners’ Forum   both being formed to debate and protest against the proposed closure.

There were 47,933 online responses, 25,000 emails and 242 letters generated during the campaign.


In a speech launching the annual report and releasing the Trust’s response to the review, Lyons said:

“The Director General presented us with a thoughtful set of proposals earlier this year in support of a clear future vision for the BBC – a vision the Trust supports because it is rooted in the BBC’s enduring mission to inform, educate and entertain audiences with programmes and services of high quality, originality and value.

“In order to deliver that vision we have concluded that the BBC must accelerate changes to its behaviour, leading to a clearer definition of the boundaries within which it operates as it makes the transition to the digital future.

“The end result will be a BBC that focuses on its two main obligations to the public – to provide distinctive public service content and to use their money wisely.”

In particular, Sir Michael stressed that on the question of the appropriate size and scope of the BBC, the message the Trust had taken from its consultation and analysis was that the BBC should accelerate changes to its behaviour in order to prove resources are being used effectively and that it has got its priorities right. To this end the Trust would focus on ensuring the BBC operated within clear boundaries, although the corporation must continue to serve all audiences.

The interim conclusions also include a package of measures to boost value for money and transparency, which were revealed by Sir Michael in a speech last week. These included plans to release more information about senior management and talent pay and to speed up the drive to cut the overall senior manager pay bill.”


UK newspapers reporting the Trust’s findings were mixed in their response, with The Guardian championing the campaigns to save 6 Music and other programs, while the Murdoch owned London Times pulled the most negative aspects out of the report to highlight and programs slammed by the review after Murdoch played a big role in highlighting this issue initially. BBC Trust slams ‘boring’ shows about homes and antiques and Presenters reveal joy after 6 Music is saved from axe by BBC Trust, are two articles about the review, but unfortunately, now that Rupert Murdoch has put The Times behind a pay wall, many who support the News Limited view will not be able to read the articles unless they cough up £1 to do so.