6Music looks set to be saved from closure, after the BBC Trust confirmed this morning it had “not been convinced by the case” for shutting the digital music station.
The BBC’s governing body published a 48-page interim statement today containing its “initial conclusions” on the Beeb director-general’s ‘Strategy Review’, which was leaked to the press in late February.
Auntie confirmed in March that, among other things, it would axe digital radio stations 6Music and the Asian Network and halve the number of the BBC websites by 2012, in the hope of saving around £600m a year.
The report said: "6 Music is making an overall contribution to digital radio listening similar to other BBC digital-only services. We are not convinced that removing the service, and reallocating its budget (around £9m per year) to spend on other aspects of digital radio, will make a decisive difference to digital take-up."
Protests against the proposed closure of 6Music, which in the months after Mark Thompson’s announcement increased its number of listeners from just under 700,000 to over one million, quickly followed.
The BBC Trust is calling on the Corporation to instead concentrate its efforts on pulling together "an overall digital strategy and delivering greater distinctiveness on Radio 1 and Radio 2."
It said it would only consider closing 6Music if four criteria could be met:
• showing a clear link between a new strategy for music radio and strategy for digital development
• evidence that changes to increase the distinctiveness of Radio 1 and Radio 2 were already under way in line with our recent service reviews
• a very clear explanation of the potential for further increases in the distinctiveness of Radio 1 and Radio 2 – in particular how 6 Music content could be put into those revised schedules and what the audience impact would be
• reassurance that there would be long-term protection for the type of distinctive content currently available uniquely on 6 Music
"As things stand, we have not seen sufficient evidence to support the case for 6 Music’s closure, although it has been helpful in highlighting the need for further work on the BBC’s digital strategy," said the trust. ®