Centres Of Excellence

BBC 6 Music and Asian Network

Yes of course I’m gutted about the proposed closure of 6 MusicSteve Lamacq has already said pretty much everything a presenter can say on the subject on his blog – though keep an eye on Adam Buxton in the next few days…

However I haven’t read as much about the impact that closing Asian Network will have on the huge and thriving South Asian music scene here in the UK. The only national outlet for new and unknown artists in these genres is on Bobby Friction‘s richly eclectic playlists of  homegrown bhangra, desi and dubstep which he airs three hours a night, four nights a week. For freshness, expertise and sheer personal warmth there’s nothing remotely like it on UK radio, as you can hear at bbc.co.uk/asiannetwork/friction

The official on-air line for presenters at both stations is that we can thank listeners for their warm wishes – and although we can’t read out their complaints about the closure, we can forward them afterwards to the Trust. What we can say on air  is:

“The BBC Trust would like to hear your views on the proposed closure of 6 Music and Asian Network at bbc.co.uk/trust/consultations“.

We do warmly appreciate our listeners’ enthusiasm. We do understand their frustration as BBC Management continues to parrot the official line rather than engaging with the counter arguments they raise. And we note their fears that the decision is already a done deal – that once again the public consultation will prove to be an expensive exercise in windowdressing.

So here’s an important message to concerned listeners:
* Do fill out the Trust’s online survey – or send them an email – but please only do it once. If it turns out there’s been widespread cheating, it will discredit the results
* Do call the BBC complaints line 03700 100 222 – all calls get logged and passed to the Trust. Again, don’t make multiple calls under different names, for the same reason.
* Instead, spread the word. Tell your friends about Asian Network and 6 Music – they can hear any of the shows at any time via the BBC iPlayer or subscribe to any of our podcasts here

When making your views known to the Trust, here’s the crucial point:
The argument is not about whether Stuart Maconie or Bobby Friction make excellent radio shows. It’s about whether that excellence should be merged into digital offerings from fewer, bigger, more marketable “brands”.

If you are keen that Asian Network and 6 Music should survive as distinct public service offerings, then your best hope is to convince all 11 members of the BBC Trust of their importance.  That there’s more to “Putting Quality First” than narrow categories and brand consolidation. And that there’s a place in the nation’s heart (and half a percent of the BBC budget) for these two small, standalone centres of excellence.

Unless the the BBC Trust members are persuaded to take a robust stand on this specific point, there’s no reason to suppose from their recent pronouncements that BBC management will change their plans by one iota.

I’m Tom Robinson – thanks for listening. Taking us up to the end of today’s post, here’s Noah And The Whale:

NOAH & THE WHALE cover “The Last DJ” by Tom Petty

Tom Robinson

London-based broadcaster & songwriter, born 1950. His best known songs are 2-4-6-8 Motorway, Glad To Be Gay and War Baby; he has also co-written songs with Peter Gabriel, Elton John, Dan Hartman and Manu Katché. Read More...


  1. Bob Arthur

    Thanks Tom – a nicely measured response. You are absolutely right in stating that we should not be arguing subjective views on the quality of individual shows. It is vital that we present intelligent and informed debate; especially so if some of the fears of a fait accompli turn out correct (not a view I am personally taking, but I know others are), since at that point we would be in a stronger position to protest the outcome if we have valid complaints and not just name-calling.

    Once again, thanks for your post.

  2. Thanks Tom, and I echo what Bob has said. I have my fingers and everything crossed for a positive outcome to this. Centre’s of excellence should not get a kicking

  3. Colin Phipps

    Excellent Post Tom, Your right about sending duplicate messages, sometimes though yopu hear something you that rasises a new point and you just have to get of your chest. However it is important to note on the communication that you have already contacted the trust and the new comminication is in addition to and rasing different concerns from previous correspondence. Great show lets hope we can keep it going.

  4. Mark H

    Great post Tom. Yeah I agree. Lets keep it peaceful, lets keep it possitive and lets keep it constructive. I just find it hard to take when it always seems that the more alternative shows are the ones who get the chop. Good luck and all the best.

    Love the show, its worth fighting for.

  5. Mike Freeman

    Hi Tom. Love the show, love the station too. There’s a gathering planned for the 27th March, but for all the members on Spacebook and the 8,000 or so complaints made, I am now worried that the old British disease Apathy will take over and we’ll end up with a dozen of us stood outside the Beeb, which means the press will either ignore it or make enormous fun of us. These are troubling times, just wish I had a fail-proof way of legally shaming the BBC into dropping their plans for 6Music.

  6. Joanne Farrell

    Mike – don’t worry, the 8,000 complaint figure being quoted is just for complaints made to the BBC complaints department, NOT feedback sent to the BBC Trust, which is believed to be in the 10’s of thousands at this stage (BBC trust don’t give out running totals so we won’t know the exact figure until the end of the consultation period).

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