Brown backs BBC 6music

By | Published on Tuesday 13 April 2010

Gordon Brown has lent his support to BBC 6music and said that Jarvis Cocker, who presents a show on the station, is his favourite DJ.

While, as with most politicians pulled into this debate, he stressed it wasn’t his job to tell the BBC what to do, he did manage a bit of electioneering by pointing out that many reckon 6music is being cut in a bid to placate a future Rupert Murdoch-supported Tory government, who are likely to want the Corporation streamlined. His basic implication – the end of 6 is David Cameron’s fault.

Asked if he supported the Save 6 campaign, Brown told The Press Association: “Yes because it’s the next stage you worry about. The Conservatives have said that they’ll hive off Radio 1. A lot of things that the BBC does are incredibly creative and quite risky – and this is a necessary means of us being a creative society. I want to safeguard the independence of the BBC and I think the licence fee is the means by which you do it”.

He continued: “The licence fee is essential to the BBC. Any proposal to massively cut the fee or to strip the BBC of its independence – or alternatively, to remove its ability to make certain programmes – is a huge mistake. I don’t think politicians should make that decision about what the BBC produces. I think the BBC should make that decision. I also think, personally, that the BBC should not have succumbed to pressure to cut certain things – but they have”.

He was also asked, as part of a series of pointless either/or questions, to pick his favourite DJ out of Radio 1’s Chris Moyles, Radio 2’s Chris Evans and Jeremy Vine and 6music’s Jarvis Cocker, to which he replied: “Definitely 6music. Definitely”. Which is a shame, because up until that point he’d seemed quite sincere.

In a further dig at Rupert Murdoch-led changes in the media, Brown also said that he didn’t think paywalls on newspaper websites, like that being introduced by Murdoch’s Times, would work, saying: “People have got used to getting content without having to pay. I don’t think you are going to be able to put things behind paywalls in the way that people think”. Of course that is the same argument for forcing record labels to licence anything-goes P2P networks instead of supporting three-strikes style systems for stopping the free exchange of content only. Though Brown didn’t talk so much about copyright owners having to get used to the public wanting their content for free in last week’s Digital Economy Bill debate, did he?

In other 6music news, The Times last weekend reported on rumours that 6 might be saved, but will be rebranded as Radio 2 Extra to fit in with the BBC’s new ‘only five national radio brands’ system, in the same way Radio 7 will become Radio 4 Extra. Radio 2 Extra would likely only broadcast 12 hours a day, instead of the current 24. These are not new rumours, though are being more discussed this week because of the Times report. 6 fans don’t like the proposals, partly because of the cut in programming, partly because they don’t want to be labelled Radio 2 listeners, even though internally at the Beeb 6 is already a sister station of 2.

As far as we know, BBC management are still set on cutting 6 completely, though they might be preparing options for if the BBC Trust block the radio station cuts in their review of the current cut-back proposals. But a BBC spokesman said yesterday: “We would like to clarify that there are currently no proposals for BBC Radio beyond those outlined in the Strategy Review”.