6 music and the BBC


I just filled in this form https://www.bbc.co.uk/complaints/forms/ and registered my thoughts about both the suggestion that the BBC might consider closing the 6 music radio station, and, as it turned out, the recent attacks on the corporation. I was more than slightly distracted as ‘Glee’ was camping it up extremely loudly in the corner of the room as I typed, and in the end I got quite carried away and not a little operatic.

Here’s what I wrote. I haven’t read it back. I may not mean any of this, but I suspect I probably do.

Dear Sirs,

I am writing to register my anger and disappointment at the suggestion that the BBC may be considering closing the 6 Music radio station. To do so would be a huge mistake, both in terms of the stations contribution to the culture of the nation, and also politically.

Firstly, 6 Music is the absolute definition of the corporation’s commitments to both music and public service broadcasting. Radio 1 and Radio 2, with rare exceptions, are entertainment stations. 6 Music is the only national music station to take rock and pop music seriously. It’s for music lovers, by music lovers. It draws on the BBC’s unrivaled history and place at the centre of rock and pop music. I grew up like hundreds of thousands of other people listening to John Peel under the bedclothes and have been an obsessive music listener, collector, fan and lover ever since. 6 Music is where that lifelong passion took me. If it goes, it will never come back. The BBC will be throwing away everything that has made it’s music radio great over the last 40 years, and closing off serious music radio to current and future generations. Today we have unparalleled access to music in ways I could never have imagined all those years ago. However, radio is about more than a catalogue of tracks. It creates, nurtures and sustains a shared culture, and without 6 Music, rock and pop culture in the UK would be significantly damaged.

Secondly, to suggest that an equivalent service would or could be provided by commercial broadcasters is laughable. 6 Music is exactly what the licence fee is for, providing a first rate service which simply would not exist if left to the private sector and the requirements of advertisers. If this is an attempt to pre-empt future attacks on the funding of the corporation, then it is utterly illogical. If the trust really believes that the BBC should be cutting those services which can be provided by the private sector, then Radio 1, Radio 2, BBC 3, News 24 and, arguably, areas of the BBC web presence would be much more credible targets. The provision of stations like 6 Music is precisely the reason that the licence fee is still paid happily by the majority of households in the UK. Please add me to the list of your listeners and viewers who would gladly pay twice the licence fee to subscribe to BBC programming. To discard what makes your output unique and valuable and keep the generic and bland is ludicrous and a betrayal of your public service remit.

Those in other sections of the media who shriek about the reach an influence of the BBC have vested interests. This will not come as news to you. Trust me, however, when I tell you that your listeners and viewers understand their motives and objectives perfectly. There is no support in the country for the dismantling of the services the corporation provide, and to make gestures towards those who target the BBC is to surrender to your enemies who are, of course, motivated purely by profit, with no regard or reverence for public service. Visit any other country and explain to them that we are considering dismantling the BBC and they will think you deranged.

I urge you in the strongest terms both to reconsider any proposals to close 6 Music, and to defend yourselves against the odious attacks upon the unrivaled service the BBC provides.

Yours faithfully etc.