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BBC Reduction Plan Draws Criticism - Radio World

BBC Reduction Plan Draws Criticism

Plan would cut Radio 6 Music and Asian Network, free £600 million per year
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In an effort to answer critics who say Auntie has strayed too far into the commercial sector, the BBC is planning to shutter two of its stations and to scale back its Web efforts.

Word of the strategic review plan was leaked in late February and confirmed by BBC Director General Mark Thompson at the beginning of March.

Under the plan, alternative music station BBC Radio 6 and the multilingual Asian Network would be cut, and spending on BBC Internet activities would be scaled back by some 25 percent. The teen-oriented portals Switch and Blast would be among the Web services cut. The BBC would also reduce spending on U.S.-originated programming and cap the money spent on acquiring broadcast rights for sporting events.

The plan is subject to a public consultation and review by the BBC Trust.

Reaction to the possible station closures has been swift, with #savebbcradio6 and related hashtags quickly rising on the Twitter trending topics list shortly after news of the plan leaked out. Several Facebook groups have been started, one of which has more than 150,000 members as of 8 March, along with several independent Web campaigns.

Reports have also stated that commercial rival Absolute Radio would be open to buying the 6 Music brand and network from the BBC.

Several high-profile South Asian sports stars and celebrities have signed on to an effort to save BBC Asian Network, including actor Meera Syal, director Gurinder Chadha, cricketer Vikram Solanki and singer M.I.A.

If the plan gains approval from the BBC Trust, the earliest any stations are expected to shutter would be the end of 2011. The closure plan is expected to free some £600 million per year that the BBC could reinvest in other efforts tied more closely to its public-service mandate.

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