March 3, 2010
The BBC’s director-general Mark Thompson yesterday acknowledged that the radio stations BBC Asian Network and 6Music were indeed going to be closed.
The corporation officially launched its Strategy Review, proposing that the Asian Network cease as a national digital service.
But the station could be replaced by a network of local services, with reduced hours, that will operate on analogue as well as digital licenses.
Director-general Mark Thompson told Channel 4 News last night that the new arrangement would allow the BBC to have a more targeted approach to Asian communities. (video below)
The Review will now go to the BBC Trust for a three-month long consultation period.
But there is a chance to save the Asian Network if enough complaints are made during the 12-week consultation period.
The chairman of the Trustees Sir Michael Lyons told the Media Guardian last night: “If we find that… there’s massive public concern that we need to take account of then we will go back to the director general to rethink the strategy before it’s approved.”
The process for the BBC Trust consultation is explained on this page.
There is more scope for complaints to have an impact through this process since the BBC Trust is actively looking for feedback from people (more advice for people looking to complain is on this blog).
It is also likely the BBC Trust will look at online campaigns on social media websites such as Facebook.
Yesterday the Labour MP Tom Watson amended an Early Day Motion in Parliament, which earlier just mentioned 6Music, to include Asian Network. It has now been signed by 33 MPs including Virendra Sharma and Khalid Mahmood.
That this House notes with deep concern recent newspaper speculation that the BBC is considering closing its 6 Music and Asian Network radio stations; believes that both radio stations offer outlets for independent and non-mainstream music; further notes that both 6 Music and Asian Network reach out to audiences not otherwise well served by the BBC; congratulates 6 Music and Asian Network for acting as a source of talent for the BBC and other media; recognises that the BBC has a duty to represent and give a platform to minority interests that need a mainstream platform to develop and grow; and calls on the Government to encourage the BBC to continue its support for 6 Music and Asian Network for many years to come.
Supporters of the Asian Network are now circulating a joint letter to be sent to the BBC Trust, protesting against the corporation’s proposed changes.
Channel 4 report
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