The future of the BBC and its impact on new music

The British government’s recent green paper on the future of the BBC has again brought the broadcasting organisation’s public service remit into question.


This question naturally puts focus on the BBC’s more popular and perceivably commercial operations such as Radio 1 whose significant identifier has always, or at least since Matthew Bannister‘s reign, been their new music programming policy. The green paper discusses the possibility of Radio 1’s divestment from the BBC.

A significant proportion of Radio 1’s daytime music programming is sourced from their sixty hours of specialist music programming, which remains in this day and age the entry point for this music’s wider acceptance with millions of listeners. In turn, commercial popular music radio stations’ music programming is influenced by Radio 1’s combined music programming.

It’s surely dangerous to try and unpack this new (the salient descriptor, not daytime or specialist) music programming ecosystem with so many unanswered questions: what commercial pressures would a private sector Radio 1 face, would specialist new music programming be retained by the BBC (which could result in it being siloed, we all love 6music but it may be a fallacy to believe it’s any less preaching to the converted than Radio 3), can this be outsourced online which seems to be the hope for the BBC Three television service. The list goes on.

And the result of this danger is jeopardising the—directly and indirectly—entry point for this music’s wider acceptance, i.e., how is a wider public going to hear all of this wonderful, exciting, new music.

We’re never far away from the core tenet of the BBC, which describes its wider social function, ‘we all put something in, we all get something out’ and may be undermined by the green paper.

As an aside, you can probably tell my era of Radio 1 by the two presenters of the station’s new music show in the photograph above!

Reference: BBC Blogs – About the BBC – Celebrating the distinctiveness of BBC Radio 1 and 2


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