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[much less music!]


axed, then saved,
then axed again!
A few protest strongly,
most don't notice

Producer: British Broadcasting Corporation
Channel: BBC6 Music on digital
Author: Mark Wheeler - TNT UK
Authored: March 2010

Just last week TNT-audio.com carried my piece on BBC6 Music's fate hanging in the balance. On 2nd March 2010 the BBC announced that BBC6 Music and another DAB station, the BBC Asian Network would be axed along with half the BBC website. The Asian network is a ghetto most of whose content should escape to Radio 4, BBC7 (a talk station not hampered by 128kbs and enjoyed daily by this writer) and Radio 2 where it would fit in and encourage more culturally diverse schedules. A small number of people have complained that BBC6 Music will become silent, but precious few compared to the outcry every time the BBC changes the schedules of its FM stations. TNT-audio is concerned with audio quality so there is no loss for us to mourn except the missed opportunity for what BBC6 Music might have been.

As I pointed out in my original article I bemoaned the variable content quality and the consistently execreble sound quality. I argued that listenners will not flock to something that offers more of the same great music at night but lowbrow presentation by day. We have commercial stations to fill that vacuum during the day. Ironically BBC local radio often does a better daytime mix of music and chat than its national popular music stations Radio 2 and Radio 1 (the latter only introduced in 1967 to compete with the pirate stations like Caroline and London). I have a Jimi Hendrix jingle recording for Radio 1 recorded in the wave of enthusiasm that greeted its introduction.

Here at TNT-audio we're not that deluded to believe we're that influential to have hammered the final nail in BBC6 Music's coffin. In a remarkable feat of dexterity and self destruction BBC6 Music managed that all by itself. The daft decision to deliver a specialist music statiYoun at a lower bit rate (128kbs just like YouTube) than legal downloads (commonly available at 256kbs and 320kbs or even 44kHz 16bit wav files) commonly available on the internet, represents pulling the coffin lid over its own head to muffle its own sound and hold in place with the first of many nails.

This is a clarion call to other mass music providers. Sadly they're probably unable to hear the call given their obvious hearing impairments, evidenced by the sound quality they deem as acceptible fayre.

The compression and information gaps necessitated by these paltry bit rates used to be called music.

Now they're called space for more of the same programming.

Except that the BBC has now had its bluff called and realised that there is simply no justificatiuon for more staions sharing the same dwindling audience. The audience is only dwindling because better is on offer elsewhere, online. Online better bit rates are widely available, no interuptions by presenters engaging with listeners on irrelevent trivia.

Musically relevent trivia is OK in its place. Mark Radcliffe and Stuart Maconie does this well on Radio 2 FM and Liz Kershaw succeeds on BBC6 Music's rare daytime moments of lucidity as listeners share their band anecdotes related to the featured band. Simple, effective and relevant.

Deliver that with high quality sound and we'll all be happy listeners loyal to the stations. Oh, we are, to nocturnal FM, and daytime Radio 3 in particular. So why do the BBC bother subdividing resources among lesser product, weakening the whole brand and wasting resources in the subdividing process.

Wake up music recording, reproduction and broadcasting businesses; stop the rot now. Return to evolutionary improvement of audio standards. Otherwise face the decline and fall of the music business empire. At present the desire to fiddle while the industry burns seems to overwhelm coherent decision making. No one will pay for content that is available at higher quality elsewhere; who are the crooks here? The consumer forced to file share to obtain deleted material or material otherwise only available at YouTube quality rates or the company denying the opprtunity for artists to earn royalties by ceasing to make material available at its original quality? Both are and both conspire in their collective ignorance to reduce the further availablity of high quality music. It won't get made if it don't get paid.

Recorded music needs to become aspirational again.

The British Broadcasting Corporation are to be praised for being the first major broadcaster and media corporation to take their first step to recovery. By cancelling projects that do not aspire to the high standards set by the BBC in the last century the BBC have the chance now to re-establish the brand with top quality content delivered through high quality platforms.

Radio enjoyed while writing this rant

BBC Radio 1, BBC Radio 2, BBC Radio 3, BBC Radio 4 and BBC Radio Derby all on FM
BBC 7 on DAB and I could enjoy Liz Kershaw on BBC6 as the quality was masked by a Black & Decker drill working on speakers.

Contact me

if your recordings, cds, lps or hi-res downloads demonstrate above average sound quality or interesting performances,
Whether you're a recording studio, label or artist,
I promise I will plug your recordings mercilessly.
Audio is pointless without great music so please Auntie Beeb provide us with some!

© Copyright 2010 Mark Wheeler - www.tnt-audio.com

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