Cut out to keep 

28 August 2011

This year’s Media Guardian Edinburgh International Television Festival may have been relatively free of controversy

It seems that after all the noises relating the BBC having to close down at least one of its digital services (television or otherwise), the end result is appearing to be much more of the same, namely cutting back on everything almost equally. Again.

Any blame for “closure reticence” can be placed firmly on previously aborted plans to close both 6 Music and Asian Network radio stations; the former being saved via public outcry and the latter by a subsequent change of thinking in relation to local radio station provision (namely, scaling back as opposed to ).

It has to be said that the momentum for ‘saving’ BBC Four seems to be fairly subdued when directly compared to the publicity surrounding the 6 Music closure, even though there’s no doubt whatsoever that BBC Four as a television channel is a good thing and its values should certainly be preserved.

Perhaps a lack of momentum can be attributed to the fact that people are split as to the value of keeping BBC Four as a separate channel versus moving many of the programmes to BBC Two where they could get a much greater audience (hence a greater value to licence fee-payers), albeit at a cost to the channel’s overall popularity.

(More on the pros and cons of keeping original programming on BBC Four can be found in this previous MediaBlog entry.)

With 6 Music it was much more apparent that its unique content wouldn’t have found a suitable home anywhere on Radio 1 or Radio 2 (it would have caused these stations to stray well away from their target demographic), as well as not being generally found within the commercial sector (the latter argument being extremely persuasive in this case),

BBC management’s attitude just seemed to be along the lines of “6 Music is relatively expensive and unpopular; marketing has failed to increase its audience so we’ll close it down”, with only the Asian Network being subjected to anything like a coherent closure strategy, presumably because of the obviously race-related dimension.

Failure of this earlier strategy has resulted in paralysis when it comes to nominating services for closure, and it’s also well worth noting that significant savings made though scaling back Formula 1 coverage have perhaps further encouraged

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