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Star Bowie sounds off in bid to save radio station

PUBLISHED: 16:46 03 March 2010 | UPDATED: 11:30 12 August 2010

A DIGITAL radio station is set to close despite protest from high-profile musicians.

A DIGITAL radio station is set to close despite protest from high-profile musicians.

Rock star David Bowie, who grew up in Bromley, joined musicians including the Manic Street Preachers in criticising the proposed closure of BBC 6 Music, a digital radio channel dedicated to alternative and new music.

Yet despite the campaign to save the station, director general of the BBC Mark Thompson confirmed on Tuesday it is to be slashed along with the Asian Network as part of the biggest shake-up in the broadcaster's 88-year history.

Last weekend, through his management Outside Organisation, Bowie showed his support for 6 Music which has 695,000 listeners and DJs including Jarvis Cocker and Lauren Lavern.

He said: "6Music keeps the spirit of broadcasters like John Peel alive and for new artists to lose this station would be a great shame."

A letter to Mr Thompson from representatives of the music industry, including the British Phonographic Industry and the Association of Independent Music, released to the press on Monday said they were "surprised and alarmed" at the review.

It continued: "BBC Radio 6 has established itself as a vital platform providing exposure to a wide range of emerging British music talent.

"There is no other radio station which is remotely comparable in scale or depth for showcasing new music.

"The Asian Music Network also provides an important channel for exposure for Asian music in the UK, which does not gain exposure on many major commercial stations.

"On behalf of the UK recorded music industry and in the interests of British music, we strongly urge you to reconsider this decision." Meanwhile, a Facebook campaign has attracted more than 60,000 supporters with the BBC receiving more than 2,500 complaints.

But the cuts, including the reduction of the number of online staff and BBC Worldwide's UK magazine titles, are expected to take place regardless in a bid to dedicate more of the £3.6 billion licence fee income to "higher quality programming".

At the press conference on Tuesday, Mr Thompson said: "I don't want to pretend that these are easy decisions. It's very interesting that politicians say: 'Why don't you cut these services?' When we start doing that, they say: 'Have you gone mad?'

"These are difficult decisions and it's painful for the people who listen and watch a given service and for those people that broadcast it.

"This is a moment for focus and rationalisation after a period of very broad growth of activities across the BBC."

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