The campaign to save the threatened BBC radio station 6 Music received a major boost last night when the network received an unprecedented seven nominations, including two for its star presenter Lauren Laverne, in the radio industry's annual Sony awards.
6 Music, along with its fellow digital station Asian Network, have been recommended for closure as part of a strategic review of the BBC overseen by its director-general Mark Thompson. The decision is being subjected to a consultation process, which ends on 25 May, and has provoked a passionate backlash from the station's supporters, with protests staged outside Broadcasting House in London.
The nominations for the Sony awards, announced last night, come at a crucial time for 6 Music. Senior BBC executives are under political pressure to deliver real cuts to marginal services to demonstrate that the Corporation is focused on its core purposes, but are also being lobbied hard to give the station a reprieve.
The morning after the announcement of the proposed closures last month, Laverne told her 6 Music audience that "it's not the easiest day to be on the radio", thanked them for their "lovely kind words" and gave them the address of the Corporation's governing body, the BBC Trust.
Last night she was nominated in the Best Music Programme and Music Radio Personality of the Year categories. Steve Lamacq was nominated in the Best Music Broadcaster section and Adam and Joe were shortlisted in the Best Comedy category. The station was also put forward in the Best Imaging section.
The other two nominations, both made jointly to Radio 2 and 6 Music, were to specialist contributor Steve Levine and to presenter Huey Morgan, a rival to Lamacq in the Best Music Broadcaster category. Asian Network received nominations for Nihal (Best Speech Programme) and for the news programme Passport to Murder.
The commercial radio sector performed exceptionally well in the shortlists for an awards ceremony which is often dominated by the BBC. All of the five categories for Station of the Year were dominated by commercial networks. The UK Station of the Year award will be contested by Absolute Radio and the speech stations BBC Radio 5live and TalkSPORT. Although 6 Music failed to reach the nominations for Best Digital Station, the fine showing of commercial stations will help to reduce claims that the BBC is too dominant in an industry where advertising revenue has fallen away.
Absolute, the station which has suggested it might take 6 Music under its umbrella if the BBC station was closed, picked up 11 nominations, including three for Christian O'Connell. The best individual performer was Nick Ferrari, of the London-based talk radio station LBC, who was given a record five nominations including one for Breakfast Station of the Year.
In spite of amassing an audience of nearly 8 million, Chris Moyles was overlooked in the Breakfast Show category, although he is listed for the Music Radio Personality of the Year award.
The winners will be announced on 10 May.