Page last updated at 16:47 GMT, Tuesday, 9 March 2010

BBC boss Thompson urged to save 6 Music

Music Week
Music Week has mounted a campaign to save 6 Music

Music Week magazine has published an open letter to BBC boss Mark Thompson urging him to rethink his plans to axe 6 Music.

Editor Paul Williams called it "an important and distinctive music radio station", adding that its closure would be a "huge error".

Mr Thompson has yet to respond to the letter, but has denied the plans are to create a "blueprint for a smaller BBC".

A Facebook campaign to save 6 Music has support from more than 150,000 people.

The BBC has so far received 7,883 messages from listeners who are concerned about proposals to close down digital radio stations 6 Music and the Asian Network, which were outlined by Mr Thompson last week.

Public concern

Music Week's letter conceded that the corporation faced financial pressures, but said it was wrong to single out a service which provided "a platform for many hundreds of artists that would not get a look in if it did not exist".

"Only the BBC can make a station like 6 Music properly work," it continued.

Mr Williams concluded that the BBC's proposals were "wrong and potentially very damaging", and said its first act should be to reverse the decision to shut down 6 Music.

Mark Thompson
Mr Thompson wants to put more money into programme making

Writing on the Music Week website, Tim Davie, the BBC's head of audio and music, said: "We will reinvest the 6 Music budget in digital radio, which could result in new opportunities to showcase British music.

"Only one in five UK adults is aware of 6 Music, and less than one in 50 listens to the station.

"We believe the best way for us to provide this kind of programming is by looking at other ways to find it a bigger audience," he added.

Mr Williams also expressed concerns about plans to increase speech content on Radio 2 during the daytime.

The proposals for 6 Music and the Asian Network will go through a public consultation before it goes to the BBC Trust for approval.

The trust's chairman Sir Michael Lyons said "public concern" might mean the BBC would have to "rethink" its plans.

'Public flogging'

There has been criticism from several leading music industry figures about the plans to close the two stations, which could happen by the end of 2011 at the earliest.

Steve Lamacq
6 Music's Steve Lamacq said the station was 'up for a public flogging'

6 Music DJ Steve Lamacq said he believed shutting the station would be "disastrous for the British music scene".

Writing on his website, he said the station was "up for a public flogging" to satisfy BBC critics.

"One argument is that the BBC should be allowing space in the market for commercial stations to operate. But what commercial outfit is ever going to replicate 6 Music?

"The cultural hole it would leave, if scrapped, would have terrible repercussions for everyone from small promoters to indie labels to bands and to music fans of all ages."

Meanwhile, Radio 4's Libby Purves has said the public should not be looking at the BBC's cuts and "squabbling over 6 Music or bits of website" but should instead be asking "what the BBC is actually for".

Writing in the Radio Times, the broadcaster said the BBC should stop catering for "idiots".

"Need it get bogged down fretting how to get an extra million idiots watching (BBC Three's) Snog, Marry, Avoid? on phone screens the size of a dog biscuit?" she asked.

"Or should the focus be making the content itself more intelligent and honest?

"Go for the high ground."

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