Proposed BBC Cuts to Impact UK Digital Radio

March 3, 2010

A new menu of digital services offered by the BBC is proving difficult to digest and may force the closure of one of its DAB channels and sale of another, as well as major cuts in Web content.

According to a report by Neil Midgley in last week's, BBC Director-General Mark Thompson has recommended a range of budget cutting measures for BBC's digital media services, including taking digital radio channels 6Music and Asian Network dark.

The announcement sparked an outburst of protest from the UK's music community, including rock legend David Bowie and 60,000 Facebook fans of the eclectic rock music channel. One commercial broadcaster, Absolute Radio (formerly Virgin) has reportedly expressed interest in purchasing the channel should the BBC decide to give it up.

The current wave of budget cut recommendations coming from the BBC reflects concern that an incoming conservative government might cut the public organization's funding at its source - national radio/TV taxes.

Observers of the digital transition note that BBC cost cutting may also impact the expansion of DAB coverage, forcing the private sector to underwrite more of the transmission infrastructure build-out and slowing the timetable for a proposed analog-to-digital radio transition.

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