How the internet could save BBC 6 Music


save 6 music.jpgLike you I can’t believe the news I am hearing this morning from the BBC. 6 Music, one of the BBC’s best innovations in recent years, is to go along with the Asian network and half of its website. While I think the culling of the website is long overdue – and largely due to the fact that the BBC team were so arrogant that the site didn’t link out to other commercial media for so long – 6 Music going is a disaster. If you are a 6 Music fan then you don’t need me to tell you how superb the station is. If you have never heard it you are missing fantastic music, much of it brand new, played by passionate, erudite music lovers.

Can BBC 6 Music be saved? Well we have already heard rumblings from the private sector on how it could be resurrected. However I am very wary of Absolute getting its hands on 6 Music. XFM was an amazing ecclectic station until the Capital Radio group got its hands on it.

What strikes me though is how little joined up thinking is going on. I am sure BBC 6 Music, and other stations like it, could be run by the BBC at a fraction of the cost if someone actually seriously considered it. They wouldn’t sacrifice the quality of the content either.

The BBC though seems stuck on old media models – big station, big name presenters etc, which in the case of 6 Music don’t really apply. Also we know that the government is hoping to switch off analogue radio transmission sometime soon. There is also a question mark over the future of digital radio too. Bearing all this in mind here’s my plan for saving 6 Music.

1 Lose the DAB broadcasts
– A fair chunk of 6 Music’s budget actually goes on servicing these (£0.4 million a year apparently). They do give the station reach, but aren’t worth the investment, not now and especially not in the long term

2 Focus on the internet – I am sure that a very large percentage of BBC 6’s audience has broadband at home (and at work too). The internet is a much cheaper and more efficient medium for transmitting audio – which is basically all BBC 6 Music really is. I don’t know how much the BBC pays to keep 6 Music on Sky and Virgin Media but I can’t imagine it is a great deal. BBC 6 Music doesn’t really have to be a live station either. It could be a series of podcasts that users stream which are updated daily.

3 Ditch the wacky presenters – One of the worst aspects of 6 Music was the way in which it aped the commercial sectors with presenters like George Lamb. BBC 6 Music doesn’t need need traditional radio presenters, it needs intelligent people talking passionately about music like Steve Lamacq and Marc Riley. It also needs lots of specialist shows like Stuart Maconie’s Freak Zone. I may be wrong but I think it is these shows that are most loved by its audience.

4 Cut the presenters’s salaries
– Sorry guys but playing music on 6 Music would be the dream job of many of the people whom listen to it. I am sure that many of the current presenters would work for 6 Music for minimal salaries, and if they didn’t there would be queues of talented people ready to replace them. I can’t believe that programming costs can’t be massively sliced.

5 Harness the community – There are now huge Facebook groups fighting to save 6 Music. I am sure that people would have great ideas on how it could be developed and restructured. The BBC should continue to give the community some kind of ownership of the station and once again they will become its biggest advocates

I really think this could provide the template for specialists stations that the BBC could run on a minimal budget which would serve small but passionate communities. If only the BBC could stop thinking like an old school media organisation and really try and innovate.

Ultimately I believe that mark Thompson needed a headline story to appease the rest of the media and in particular the Tories. In axeing 6 Music (while continuing to spend huge sums on salaries and buildings) he has once again shown how out of touch he is. can’t we get rid of him?

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  • yes i do thought it look like a real funeral..for me i love 6 music definitely.

  • I love 6 music. They better survive because i really do like them. Im one of thoughs fans that will make sure they make it.If they need me to help promote them i will, please make it 6 music and dont give up

  • What a great picture. They went pretty far with that picture. Looks like a real funeral. I do believe the internet can save them if they actually take the time to market it right.

  • I think BBC 6 music can be saved. If they market it right online then they could see a lot of growth in the company. I believe it can be saved buts its just going to take some work thats all.

  • i cant believe this news….it is totally joking
    if it is true so plz explain me how it possible.

  • The DAB transmission costs are misleading. BBC 6 is part of the BBC National DAB mux. The channels are all combined and shoved out as one – your DAB radio picks the bits out it wants, hence the delay! If 6 music was closed, that 0.4 million would need to be split amongst the remaining channels on the mux, so no saving

  • Go for it Ash, get viral. Save BBC 6. Although I can’t agree with the cutting DAB idea. I listen to ‘6 when I am in the car, so have no choice but DAB. There is life, and radio listeners, outside of London you know!

  • A good article, agree with most of it although I’d like to keep digital radio going. XFM was wrecked by Capital and George Lamb was certainly for a younger generation than mine but even that was worth putting up with for the quality of the rest of the content.

    As a workplace radio station it has been a real success for my office, the variety and lack of shouty advertising has won almost everyone over.

    Lets make a lot of noise!

  • 6Music going is a big, big loss and a big, big mistake in my opinion – I’m a BBC supporter but I think this is a very bad decision to lose a quality music station. Will really miss Stuart Maconie’s Freak Zone especially…a sad day for independent, intelligent music lovers.

  • i personally really like george lambs and adam and joe shows and think it appeals to the young(er!) listeners of 6music.

    • I think your point about George Lamb appealing to younger listeners is true, but his show could quite easily fit on XFM and Absolute whereas most of the rest of 6 Music’s output wouldn’t.

      I think a key issue here is salaries. I cannot work out how to spend £6.4 million on programming unless you are paying well over the odds for presenters

  • Re costs of 6Music.

    £6.4 million is for programme costs
    £0.4 million is distribution costs on DAB, so I don’t think the costs are a huge issue.

    This is from the 2008/9 BBC annual accounts.

    I do however agree with all of your other points, although its not dead just yet. There is a 12 week consultation process with the Trust. Keep complaining to the trust.

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