Plans have been confirmed today by the BBC to close down digital stations, the BBC Asian Network and BBC 6 Music.
In proposals sent to the BBC Trust, the BBC said the Asian Network faces its national service on DAB being shutdown but will retain its local AM outputs in Birmingham and Leicester. With the closure of the BBC Asian Network’s national broadcast, the BBC is “increasing the quality of local radio and boosting investment in local news.”
Whilst details are sketchy of how the BBC Asian Network will continue post 2011, it is likely that the local outputs will be networked and syndicated nationally on local stations where there are large Asian communities.
In the strategy review, the BBC has proposed the following to the BBC Trust; “One option is to replace it with a network of five part-time local services with some syndicated national Asian programmes. These would be available on local DAB and local Medium Wave, serving areas with the largest British Asian communities.”
During the briefing Mr Thompson said the earliest the BBC Asian Network and 6 Music would close would be by the end of 2011.
The proposals have now been submitted to the BBC Trust where a public consultation period will take place.
At a staff meeting at BBC Television Centre this morning, Mark Thompson, Director General announced, “The BBC can’t do everything and it has to recognise the challenges facing commercial media. But people who are hoping the corporation is going to be reduced to a fraction of its size will be disappointed.”
He has also confirmed that there will be 25% less spent on BBC online by 2013.
Other closures will be of teen services Switch and Blast, with Mr Thompson admitting Channel 4 should lead the way with these audiences.
As a result of the changes Mr Thompson said he expected the plans would see an extra 600m diverted into programme-making.