Everyone in a particular demographic will now know that the BBC director general, Mark Thompson, has announced a plan to close two of the most Reithian of radio stations, 6Music and the Asian Network. If you're up in arms about these closures, you can still do something about it.
Kate Butler has an excellent eight-point plan. You don't have to complete all eight points: this is not a competition. More specifically, J Hunt has a basic pro forma letter and two email addresses you can send it to. I recommend you actually send it to both, as you won't get a reply from the "srconsultation" one.
In the spirit of not sending anything entirely pro forma, I've written my own as an open letter below (and of course emailed it to the relevant contacts). Feel free to rewrite for your own use.
Subject: Response to Mark Thompson's announcements - NO to closing 6Music and Asian Network
To whom it may concern,
I would like to address proposals announced on March 2 2010 by the BBC director general Mark Thompson. These suggest the closure of BBC 6Music and the BBC Asian Network, among many other changes.
I am a loyal supporter of the BBC and of the licence fee. I believe that the BBC's television, radio and multimedia outlet easily justifies the licence fee, and moreover that the two stations earmarked for closure in the proposals are exactly what the BBC is about and what make the BBC worth its fees.
Each station fulfils a remit that commercial broadcasting simply cannot and will not provide for. The stations cater for "sizeable minorities", which commercial media ignores in favour of massive homogeneities. 6Music's audience are committed, involved, interested listeners who get a lot out of the service, whereas a large commercial station (or even BBC1) simply does not have that audience buy-in. 6Music, the Asian Network and catering for other "sizeable minorities" constitute the most direct routes to the very heart of Reithian, socially active, life-changing public-service broadcasting. 6Music supports live music and niche genres, and provides an access to the BBC's archive of recordings, thus offering a service not just for listeners but also for the UK's arts and culture, for which no equivalent commercial alternative exists.
Having said that, I would certainly not recommend the closure of any other part of the BBC in the place of these stations: I am not writing to you to merely express a preference as to where the axe should fall (although I am myself an avid listener to 6Music.) In an ideal world I would rather there be no axe at all: through ringfenced experimentation and risk-taking the BBC has always fostered new talent and fulfilled social functions that again no commercial broadcaster would care about. Any closure at the BBC makes me, a BBC fan, unhappy.
Yet if cost-cutting is essential, then what's the point in cutting such vital, heartland services for the sake of some £7m and £21m respectively? Such sweeping cuts make for great soundbites, but when BBC1 has a budget of £1400m, and £600m is being brought back into media production by the closure of online services, then it would surely represent far less of a wrench for £30m of savings to come from that £2000m total - around one percent of that total! - rather than getting rid of 100% of the 6Music and the Asian Network channels.
If the BBC can work with its audiences of "sizeable minorities", rather than neglecting them when the time comes for cuts; if the return of £600m into programme-making can be visibly demonstrated to float 6Music, the Asian Network and even other digital channels; if the BBC Trust rejects the proposals to close these passionately loved stations; then it will find that the listeners to these stations will be active and reliable supporters of the BBC for years to come.
I therefore strongly urge the BBC Trust to reject these proposals, for the good of musicians, of the BBC and of the listening public.