Like a sad bandwagon-jumping pranny, I have written a letter to the BBC Trust. God, it’s almost as if I believe people can do something to affect the world they live in. Muppet. So I plugged my mate’s book, just to keep myself feeling like it was self-serving, cynical and ironic, rather than a heartfelt plea about something I really, really care about.
Dear BBC Trust,
I have never been moved to write to the BBC before. As a long time supporter of the BBC, the world-rivalling quality of its programming and everything it stands for, I am baffled and saddened by the announcement of plans to shut down 6music and the Asian Network. For me, both stations represent the BBC doing what it does best, fulfilling the remit of its public service responsibilities by providing high quality broadcasting in areas which commercial competitors do not cover. If there is a lack of awareness that either station exists, this is a failure in branding and outreach – not an indication that the stations themselves are underperforming.
Radio1 is now almost indistinguishable from its commercial rivals. 6music is unique, having taken over the commitment to showcasing new, alternative or otherwise fringe music that Radio1 used to promote in the evenings during the early to mid nineties. Similarly, 6music has been supportive of British artists working in other media – I have had the pleasure of hearing authors, film makers, actors and poets interviewed and encouraged to perform on the channel.
The author John Osborne’s recently published book Radio Head, a celebration of Great British radio, singles out the Asian Network and 6music as two jewels in our country’s broadcasting crown. It would be a tragic day for British music, and a gross dereliction of the principles upon which the BBC were founded, if two of the finest, most unique radio stations on the globe were to be shut down completely. I urge you to listen to the license fee payers, and to re-evaluate the wisdom of your strategy, so that these two stations can continue to promote the best of our country’s vibrant and diverse Arts culture.