Cuts not about “politics” but about focussing on quality, says BBC boss

The BBC says its plan to cut radio and digital services is not motivated by political pressure but about offering more opportunities to its commercial rivals.

Lauren Laverne 6Music

The BBC says its plan to cut radio and digital services is not motivated by political pressure but about offering more opportunities to its commercial rivals.

The corporation is expected to unveil a series of proposals later today (2 March) aimed at “putting quality first”. Changes include shutting radio stations 6Music, which features presenter Lauren Laverne (pictured), and the Asian Network and reducing the size of its website by half.

The cuts are said to have been the result of pressure from the Conservative Party, which has called on the BBC to curb its spending.

However, BBC director general, Mark Thompson says the changes are “not a piece of politics”.

Writing in the Guardian today, Thompson adds the changes are not a “blueprint for a small BBC, or a BBC that is a retreat from digital” but about delivering services of “outstanding quality”. To this end, the corporation is also expected to announce plans to invest £600m a year into quality programming.

The BBC has come under fire from critics over the salaries of its executives and presenters such as Jonathan Ross. Commercial rivals have also questioned the role of its commercial arm, BBC Worldwide.

Thompson says the corporation’s commercial activity “should help fund and actively support the BBC’s public mission, and never distort or supplant that mission”.

“The BBC should not attempt to do everything. It must listen to legitimate concerns from commercial media players more carefully than it has in the past, and act sooner to meet them. It needs the confidence and clarity to stop as well as to start doing things,” he adds.

Reports that 6Music is facing the axe have led to a backlash from the station’s listeners. More than 70,000 have joined a Facebook group demanding the digital-only station be saved.

Absolute Radio has expressed an interest in buying the 6Music brand and network if it should be axed.

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