Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Axe hovers over BBC's Asian Network

If you're British-Asian and interested in representation and the media then the big news over the last couple of days has been the BBC proposals to drop their 'niche' digital radio station, the BBC Asian Network. The proposals, which are part of cost-cutting and re-focussing measures, also propose the closure of BBC 6 Music and large chunks of BBC online.

Critics of the proposals say that the BBC is bowing too far to commercial competitors complaining about unfair advantage. One competitor of the Asian Network, Avtar Lit and his Sunrise Radio group, would certainly be very pleased to see it's only decent competition disappear.

Since the news first leaked out last Friday, the critics of the proposals have been growing. And now, as is customary, the obligatory Facebook and Twitter campaigns have been launched, with thousands signed-up already. I've signed up for the Asian Network station to be saved because I think it does provide a unique service, and I'd urge you to sign up too. Btw, 38degrees.org.uk also have a growing online petition here. An Early Day Motion was also going to be raised in parliament today by Tom Watson MP.

Co-incidently I happened to be speaking to someone today who has been very close to the BBC action until very recently - he asked me 'where is the British-Asian outraged response?' suggesting that some account might be taken of it.  And indeed, I was interested to read this at the Guardian site a few moment ago: "
[P]lanned cuts could be rethought if there is evidence of 'massive public concern', says BBC Trust chairman Sir Michael Lyons". So it's important you make yourself heard - now.


Narinder Purba said...

The way I look at it is that I am a British Asian and I don't listen to the BBC Asian Network. It has never appealed to me.

There is a deeper question as to its relevance in a wider context of multiculturalism, and should, for example, the BBC scrap it, and it become a regional organisation - how far is it sway in any case - would it be such a loss to the corporation and the British Asian society at large anyways?

Raven said...

I guess the station won't appeal to every Brit-Asian and it doesn't need to (just like non-Asian stations). I must admit I don't listen to it a great deal - I do spread myself around (I prefer speech radion at home, and my music listening is often done in the car where the Asian Network is not available to me). But any one station does not need to be listened to by the whole community to be valuable.

Amongst other things, one value of the station is that it provides a pathway into the mainstream for many Asian presenters and media workers. Many of them have gone on to BBC 5 Live. Maybe it shouldn't have to be like this, but that seems to be the reality.

I can see your point, though, about it not making much difference to lots of Brit-Asians.