Protesters turn up volume on campaign to save 6 Music

"Trust open to 6 Music 'rethink'," ran a headline yesterday on the entertainment page of
bbc.co.uk, Britain's most popular website. The story of the planned closure of one of the BBC's smallest national radio networks was also running on the BBC News channel, having the previous evening been aired on BBC 2's Newsnight, where presenter Jeremy Paxman questioned the corporation's director-general Mark Thompson, who appeared in front of a large 6 Music logo.

The wave of publicity from within the BBC, and the hope it offered that the digital network might be given a reprieve, has helped feed a frenzy of online activity from supporters campaigning to keep it alive. By yesterday afternoon a Facebook page created to save the station had acquired more than 112,000 members. An online petition wielded the banner "One Nation Under a Groove".

For a station with a weekly audience of only 700,000 it has been an extraordinary response. The backlash has been fuelled by the outpourings of the station's presenters, in spite of the usual reticence of BBC talent to say anything negative about the corporation. As Thompson confirmed the plans as part of a strategic review, Lauren Laverne went on Twitter to talk of "the most emotional day at work of my life", comparing her walk to the studio to "that final walk to the vets". Phill Jupitus, the breakfast show presenter at the station's launch, said its output was incomparable. "Where else would I hear this kind of radio during the day? The tragic answer to that question is nowhere."

As the clamour rose, BBC bosses admitted their decision might not be final. Thompson pointed out that the plans were subject to a 12-week consultation process and conceded the station wasn't yet finished. "There's a lot of water under the bridge until we get to that point." Sir Michael Lyons, chairman of the BBC Trust, said there could be a "rethink" if "there's massive public concern".

Media observers believe this is a complex game being played out between the BBC and critics who think that it has grown too powerful. "It's a chess game and these are the first moves. But I don't think it's the endgame," said one radio expert yesterday. The first move was made at the end of last week when senior BBC executives sanctioned the leaking of a draft report, disclosing the planned closure of 6 Music, to Rupert Murdoch's The Times, one of the fiercest opponents of BBC growth.

The internet went into overdrive. Matt Bourn, managing director of Braben, a specialist media public relations firm, said the response would not have surprised BBC executives. "Everybody planning a communications campaign around an action always looks at the possible outcomes. This particular station has an audience of passionate music fans and their behaviour is well-known," he said, citing the Facebook campaign to snub Simon Cowell and get Rage Against Machine to the Christmas No 1 slot. Bourn pointed out that 6 Music was extraordinarily well-connected, with key figures such as Laverne and Jupitus having high media profiles. "They are people in the media industry and the output of 6 Music is loved by many journalists. There was always going to be the potential for these repercussions."

It's not clear whether the BBC damned 6 Music in order to provoke a groundswell of popular support for its content. But any such strategy could yet backfire. Within the radio industry it is pointed out that the 6 Music budget of £7m a year means £10 is being spent on every listener. There was a value-for-money argument for closing the service, and its best output could be used to replace some of the blander offerings of Radio 1 and Radio 2. But following the outcry, 6 Music's next Rajar audience figure seems certain to be a record-breaker.

So as the calls grow to save 6 Music, BBC bosses may have to find savings elsewhere in their budget, while supporters for each segment of the output prepare to mobilise online. The cutting of senior management at the BBC is one proposal that it is unlikely to provoke the fury of the internet.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
Under the skin: Sarah Kane in May 1998
theatreThe story behind a new season of Sarah Kane plays
Arts and Entertainment
Preening: Johnny Depp in 'Mortdecai'
filmMortdecai becomes actor's fifth consecutive box office bomb
Sport
Bradford City's reward for their memorable win over Chelsea is a trip to face either Sunderland or Fulham (Getty)
football
News
Lars Andersen took up archery in his mid thirties
video
Voices
Focus E15 Mothers led a protest to highlight the lack of affordable housing in London
voicesLondon’s housing crisis amounts to an abuse of human rights, says Grace Dent
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: Analyst Programmer (Filemaker Pro/ SQL) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days, pension, private medical : Ashdown Group: A highly...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm - London

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

Sauce Recruitment: Financial Accountant -Home Entertainment

£200 - £250 per day: Sauce Recruitment: 6 month contract (Initially)A global e...

Sauce Recruitment: Financial Accountant -Home Entertainment

£200 - £250 per day: Sauce Recruitment: 6 month contract (Initially)A global e...

Day In a Page

Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea