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BBC Trust saves 6 Music

The proposed closure of 6 Music has been rejected by the BBC Trust in their initial response to plans.

The digital station has been under threat since a BBC strategy review in March but the proposal has always needed final approval from the Trust, who represent the interest of licence fee payers.

Sir Michael Lyons said that the case for the closure of 6 Music had not been made and would only consider closing 6 Music as part of a wider strategy on the future of digital radio. However, the Trust has backed plans to close the Asian Network, teen service Blast! and take a quarter of the online budget away.

The Trust said it had received "No evidence from the commercial radio sector to suggest that 6 Music presents any kind of threat either now or in the future so long as it remains true to its distinctive remit'', adding: "We also note the strong view expressed by many in the music industry that 6 Music plays a very valuable role in the cultural life of the UK that would not be easily replaced and that would not be filled by the commercial sector.''

Today's announcement also says: "[The Trust] would not expect to see a further proposal to make changes to 6 Music" unless the BBC could meet several conditions, including giving reassurance that there would be "long-term protection for the type of distinctive content currently available uniquely on 6 Music'' and providing evidence that "the changes we have already requested to Radio 1 and Radio 2 are under way''.

Since the BBC Strategy Review, there has been a number of protests and campaigns to save the station. High profile names like David Bowie, Lily Allen, Coldplay, Jarvis Cocker and Glastonbury organiser Emily Eavis have joined listeners and politicians in giving the station their support.

Previous BBC figures show that the station costs around £9m to run. In the last RAJAR results, 6 Music saw a surge in listeners to take them over the 1m mark.

The Trust has received 47,933 online responses, more than 25,000 emails and 242 letters, the majority of them focusing on 6 Music.

In response, Andrew Harrison, Chief Executive, RadioCentre, said: “We welcome the interim report from the BBC Trust, and in particular its emphasis on distinctiveness and value for money, as the next step in the process to review the future size and shape of the BBC.

“In our response to the BBC Strategy Review, we highlighted the importance of delivering more public value on BBC Radio’s popular music services and the critical need for a much clearer commitment to radio’s digital future from the BBC. We are pleased, therefore, that the BBC Trust has mandated BBC management to deliver greater distinctiveness on Radio 1 and Radio 2, and welcome its call to draw up an overarching strategy for digital radio with the commercial sector.”

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