BBC radio stars hit out over 6 Music closure plans

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The Independent Online

BBC presenters expressed their dismay this morning as they learned their station may be lined up for the axe.

The closure of BBC 6 Music - one of the corporation's most successful digital-only stations - is one of the proposals being put forward in a strategic review of services, it was reported today.

The Asian Network would also be closed, The Times reports, spending on imported shows would be cut and web pages cut by a quarter.

The BBC said the details of the report were "speculation".

But 6 Music presenters, and celebrity fans, spoke today of their frustration at the potential cut.

Whispers about the prospect of the demise of the station - which has 695,000 listeners - led to a Facebook petition being set up, which already has 60,000 members.

Lauren Laverne, a presenter for 6 Music, wrote on Twitter today: "Looks like I'm joining that facebook group then. Boo, boo and thrice boo. That is all. SAD FACE."

Shaun Keaveny, 6 Music's breakfast show host, told listeners today: "First of all, massive thanks to everyone who has shown their support, it's literally choking us up...

"Nobody could know the whole story, and we won't until something like March 9. We hope it isn't true of course."

BBC presenter Charlie Brooker said: "I was going to buy a digital radio next week. If they get rid of BBC 6 music I might as well not bother."

Broadcaster and writer Miranda Sawyer said: "I am so disappointed in the BBC. Spend millions on buildings and talent shows, forget to keep enough for great radio."

Actor Nick Frost - soon to be seen starring in a BBC adaptation of Martin Amis's Money - said he would use his "power within the industry" to exert pressure, adding: "Be warned fat cats."

The Times claimed the measures are part of a plan, due to be made public next month, to shrink the corporation's overall services and focus more on quality over quantity.

Director-General Mark Thompson is also said to be preparing to announce the closure of BBC Switch and Blast!, which are targeted towards the teenage market.

The proposals would reportedly yield savings of £600 million which could be redirected to higher quality programming.

The Facebook campaign is being co-ordinated by Tracy Morter and her husband Jon, who were also behind the successful campaign to get Rage Against The Machine to number one for Christmas.

She said today: "I'd be gutted if they got rid of it. I do listen to a few other stations but they get annoying when they play the same songs every day, which is what they have to do to keep the advertisers happy, but the BBC is free to do what it likes.

"They have this amazing back catalogue of music, decades of music, and they can pick from all of that so there's new and old, it's just so different.

"You're forced to listen this mainstream stuff but BBC 6 Music doesn't do that, so if they get rid of that as well I don't know what I'll do. I can't bear Radio 1, I can't listen to it for too long.