An exclusive report in The Times today claims that the BBC is set to axe two digital radio stations – alternative music station BBC 6 Music and BBC Asian Network – sending shockwaves through the DAB and radio industry.
TechRadar has contacted the BBC press office this morning who could only issue us with a 'no comment', with a spokesperson stressing that the report in the Times which clearly states that the BBC will close two radio stations in an overhaul of services next month, is purely speculative.
"In a wide ranging strategic review, he [Mark Thompson, the Director-General] will announce the closure of the digital radio stations 6 Music and Asian Network and introduce a cap on spending on broadcast rights for sports events of 8.5 per cent of the licence fee, or about £300 million," reads the Times report – in language which is far from speculative.
The review was drawn up by the corporation's director of policy and strategy, John Tate, a former head of the Conservative policy unit. It is also reported that the BBC's web pages are to be halved, backed by a 25 per cent cut in staff.
Save 6 Music campaign
As a 'Save 6 Music' campaign already gains traction on Twitter - at #saveBBC6Music -6 Music DJ Andrew Collins asks on his blog today: "Is 6 Music really on death row?," adding: "Nobody actually knows for sure, and speculation and paranoid rumour have been rife for some time. But it's looking worse this morning than it did when I left the building at 10am on Wednesday.
"We all know that DG Mark Thompson is being forced to make cuts to appease readers of the Daily Mail and the Tory government-in-waiting, who think that the £3.6 billion annual licence fee is being wasted on some programmes and stations that they don't watch or listen to. The bashing of the BBC has long been a national sport among the media conglomerates who control the Rest Of The Media, corporations with fingers in multiple pies that chuck money at redesigns and failed ventures every day but are only accountable to their shareholders
"The question is - and it really doesn't matter in the broader scheme of things - how come [The Times'] Patrick Foster has read this report, which is due to be made public next month? There are jobs at stake here. This is not about me - I just freelance for 6 Music, and have been thoroughly enjoying doing so since just before Christmas - most of the people who work at the network, day in, day out, doing a death-defying job with less resources and less warm bodies than any other comparable 24-hour music network while attracting some of the biggest names in music and receiving full support of the record industry, are on staff, or contracts. I worry for these people first, and for the loyal listeners second, with my own interests a long way down the list."
Collins signs off with a note of caution, adding that, "we should all sit back and take a pinch of salt; the Times pieces is necessarily written and published from a stance of wishful thinking, and may not turn out to be gospel."
Stay tuned for more news from the BBC, DAB execs, DAB radio manufacturers and music industry insiders as we get it.