At midday yesterday, several hundred people gathered outside Broadcasting House on Portland Place to protest against the hypocritical idiocy that is the proposal to close BBC 6 Music.This may have been the most polite and good-natured protest to take place in London for some time. Young and old, the crowd gathered considerately between Broadcasting House and All Souls Church and made clear their general dissatisfaction with Mark Thompson’s proposals. Acoustic performances were applauded, speakers were cheered and rather tasty cookies were shared around under, at times, a sea of umbrellas.This was never going to be a riotous protest. The majority of protesters probably tended not to do this sort of thing very often, and definitely didn’t want to seem rude or inconsiderate whilst firmly but gently making their point. No tabloid-pleasing accusations of ‘rent-a-mob’ here. And yet, the fact that so many well-mannered music-lovers were willing to attend such a protest, some travelling for hours to do so, underlines their assertion that these proposals have been poorly justified and do not appear to serve the BBC’s remit, let alone the wishes of the licence fee payers.And this protest was all about the licence fee payers. A commonly recurring theme was the suggestion that the proposals to cut the digital-only radio station (and other services) were motivated by a desire for political or commercial appeasement and a pointless quest for ‘brand consolidation and tidiness’, rather than a commitment to public service broadcasting and the interests of a significant demographic of licence fee payers. Most of the many 6 Music DJs who spoke at the protest preceded their remarks with a disclaimer that they were speaking as licence fee payers, rather than as employees of the BBC, having apparently received ‘warnings’ about doing so.Ultimately, as the protest neared its conclusion, Adam Buxton (of the ‘Adam & Joe Show’) summed up the purpose behind the gathering with the chant:
“What do we want?”
“Leave us alone!”“When do we want it?”“For a long time!”
Hear hear.Opinions are the author’s own. More great photos of the protest (including some familiar faces) and comments from some of the protesters can be found elsewhere on the interwebs.