back to article BBC protects 'unique' 1Xtra listeners from radio cull

The BBC has justified 1Xtra’s survival in the Corporation’s recent biz strategy cull by claiming that the station’s “unique” audience, which is made up of fewer listeners than death row candidate 6Music, is worthy of more investment. In effect, the Beeb is keeping 1Xtra - which is its "new black music network" - alive despite …


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  1. breakfast Silver badge

    Spurious "s"

    I think they intended to say "1Xtra's unique listener" but somehow a pluralising 's' snuck subtly into the statement.

  2. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    Young listeners become old listeners

    As their favourite disc jockeys move on from BBC Radio 1 to Radio 2. Tony Blackburn, Terry Wogan, Desmond Carrington... all started on pirate radio ships you know. (Well... partly true.)

  3. Anonymous Coward

    All very annoying!

    Bah! And those of us who listen to 6Music are the muppets who pay the sodding license fee. I tried listening to xfm and Absolute so I could talk about the commercial sector- but it was just too painful. Absolute in particular seemed to run ads for 10 minutes, followed by an oasis song, another 10 minutes of ads followed by a queen song. Its not as if the Queen song was one of their decent ones - no it was One-sodding-Vision! Give me 6music anyday.

    1. Chris Collins

      breakfast show

      XFM's breakfast show blows goats. Without 6Music I see no need for a digital radio, so I'm back to FM when it's gone.

  4. max allan

    As a 35 year old...

    As a 35 year old I realise I'm on the edge, but I find Radio 1 is generally pushing out teen crap and I only listen to Radio 1 because it's the only music channel I can reliably receive on my way to work.

    So why do they need R1 and 1 Extra to appeal to the same audience when they haven't got anything but 6 music targetting the slightly older generation?

    (No Radio 2 doesn't hit the mark. It was for my parents when they were my age and it's still aimed at them now)

    There are so many other things they could cut down on that no one is going to miss...


    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You arent on the edge

      BBC doesnt care about people our age, fact

      Radio 1 is aimed at 15-29 year olds. Radio 2 is aimed at people 35 and above but....

      The average age of listner is in its 50's and they want more done to appeal to older listners not younger.

      So the BBC are admiting there is a massive gap in their radio services for people aged between 30 and 50 and 6 Music seems to fit the bill perfectly.

      As someone mentioned on a previous comments section if BBC had any sense they would move 6 music to fm so people can actualy listen to it and stick radio 3 on digital only

  5. Graham Bartlett

    And 5Live?

    The bigger question (missed in this article) is why on earth 5Live is still around. Given that its costs are an order of magnitude more than any of the at-risk stations, *and* that everything it provides can already be found on TV, *and* that its numbers are not that different from any of the music stations threatened with the axe, it seems difficult to justify its existence.

    1. 20legend

      Sorry Graham..

      ..but that is a load of horse poop.

      Without paying even more money to the likes of Murdoch, can you point us in the direction of the free football channel that you seem to be implying exists.

      Also can you enlighten us as to how one would be able to watch this mythical, all encompassing, free sports coverage on telly whilst driving the car for example, as last time I checked it was illegal - but listening to it on the radio wasn't.

    2. Chris Stafford


      The station on the graph is Five Live Sports Xtra - it's a station that runs about once a week on digital only, and only when there's too many matches to cover on Five Live alone, so it costs peanuts and the listening figures aren't bad at all

  6. Matt Kimber

    Publicity stunt?

    I'm really beginning to wonder whether it's a genuine desire to close down two radio stations, or whether the BBC are playing brinksmanship with the Tory/Murdoch alliance against public broadcasters. It's the only explanation that doesn't require staggering incompetence at every level of senior management. (Which I'm not totally prepared to discount, but...)

    In angling to cancel a station that is not duplicated commercially, one that has vociferous and dedicated listeners, the Beeb has basically given itself an extraordinary publicity campaign about how much a significant section of the public values its services. In other words, they've chucked 6Music (and to a lesser extent the Asian network) on the chopping block to show:

    - The Conservatives, whose election victory is far from assured, just how damaging an anti-BBC stance could be for their popularity.

    - Murdoch that his much vaunted "commercial interests" are not even touching some of the same content the BBC produces.

    (The latter one is a bit of a straw man. There are indeed tanks on the lawn outside Murdoch's house of paywalled content with the BBC logo on them, it's just these are the tanks from the BBC1, BBC3 and BBC News regiments. Similarly, the main threat to commercial radio broadcasters are R1 and R2. This is why I don't see the whole, "stepping back from commercial territory" argument as it relates to axing R6 and Asian network.)

    It's also been fantastic publicity for 6Music itself. You couldn't buy advertising like that. I wonder what the listening figures for the last week are like?

    1. M.A
      Gates Horns

      one question

      when was the last time you had satelite reception in a car rupert murdoch . of course the beeb should NOT close down any station for commercial interests thatwou;ld be suicide.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Up

        When was the last time you had satelite reception in a car?

        Every morning here in the US. We get hundreds of channels on Sirius and you get great reception even in the middle of nowhere (expect tunnels!).

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward


          The Tory/Sky alliance? Yes, the Tories seem to be promising the dirty digger that he can have the licence fee should they win the election (and no doubt keep charging for content and running advertising) but could it be that all they are doing is playing him for the schmuck he undoubtedly is? As long as they keep making vague promises and pandering to him then his media will back the Tories election bid. Should the Tories win the next election do you think Roop will get anything he's asking for? Nope.

          Not that the Tories would go back on their promises that suddenly of course. It would no doubt go through a process of "consultation" and the proposals be watered down until there was nothing left of them. In the mean time Roop would get something out of the new year's honours list and an advisory role in some newly created media quango, which will have no powers at all.

          After all Nulabour stole all the Tories policies, the Tories have to steal something back and that sort of behaviour has become entrenched in British politics since the day Bliar took office.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Post Election Possibilities

      Given the slow death of commercial terrestrial TV (ITV has been slowly eating itself alive one region at a time since the Thatcher mandated re-auction in the 90s) and commercial radio due to years of falling quality and now falling revenue, the BBC will increasingly be seen as the only threat to Sky/Murdoch. The BBC undermines paywalls by providing license payers with free content that (20 years) on still trumps anything from the content poor and more revenue rich BSKYB.

      Cameron can say what he wants now (or more likely say nothing with a lot of words) and do what he wants later, and to go by the rampant paranoia on the BBC website comment pages it seems there are a lot of little Maggie-boy minds hating the so-called liberal/left leaning elite in the BBC and will want satisfaction. Of course the BBC is about as left leaning as Tony "Bomb Iran" Blair, but that is of course too close to pinko for foaming mouthed Maggie-boys.

      I think the BBC DG is trying to genuinely offer up these cuts in order to prevent further cuts after the election. The Tories can't attack the BBC charter (they could, but that would be a bridge too far situation) and giving the license fee to prop-up ITV/C4/C5 wouldn't benefit Sky/Murdoch. The targets are BBC News online (gone or stripped to nothing) and iPlayer since Murdoch has interests (i.e., monies) in the commercial alternatives to both. Preemptive cuts could make it harder to justify further cuts later.

      1. Paul 4

        You would make a much better point

        without all the insults.

  7. Daniel Bennett

    Young people my arse.

    "1Xtra reaches a young audience that the BBC traditionally finds it hard to reach on any platform. Specifically, 1Xtra's 'unique' audience - people who don't listen to any other BBC radio output - is almost twice that of 6Music,” it told us.

    Errm... No, BBC reach for black people.

    Nothing on 1Xtra i've liked.. ever... i'm now 20 ...

  8. Christopher Rogers
    Thumb Down

    Keeping 1Xtra?

    Is it cos i is black?

    The BBC is about to take its best bits and bin them. Radio gaga?

  9. Daniel 1

    Why would you target 16 year olds for "commercial reasons"?

    They're all on the dole, or doing media courses at college.

    1. Trevor 10

      or doing media courses at college.

      Today's media studies students are tomorrows low paid but want to be seen as successful consumers of products who can be advertised to.

      The BBC may not be allowed to advertise to them, but it doesn't prevent them from trying to reduce the income from commercial operators by stealing their most valuable audiences.

      1. M.A

        mmm interesting point

        Perhaps the commercial sector shopuld do 2 things put something on to appeal (to anyone) give their local stations some personality instead of corporate sound alike idiots. and stop moaning the beeb have all the listeners, they havnt stole them it is called competition live with and get some decet shows.!!!!!!!!!!!!

  10. Richard Gadsden 1

    @Graham Bartlett

    You're looking at audience figures for 5Live Sports Extra and costs for 5Live.

    Sports Extra is the digital-only overspill channel for when there are two sporting events on at once (and for simulcasting TMS with 4LW). 5Live is a 24/7 station also broadcast on Medium Wave.

  11. John 29

    if they're unique to the bbc then...

    ..either they don't use any media or their needs are well served by the commercial sector!

    Given how small these RAJAR samples are, i'm also dubious as to the validity of many of these stats...

    1. Citizen Kaned

      ive always wondered...

      how this works. i mean who the hell do they survey? nobody ive ever met.

      is it just mr and mrs j bloggs with their 2.4 children? surely they just ask about 100 people and then extrapolate, but there is massive room for error here

  12. JeeBee

    Useless BBC, failing its license payers

    Why do all radio stations have to be targeted at the 16-24 demographic? You know, people who are unlikely to be paying for their own license.

    It's an insult to the people who are paying the TV license, who want some different music to listen to than the commercial pop pap on Radio 1.

    The BBC really need to take a look at satisfying all their listeners, not the same ones over and over again. Not everyone over 30 likes Radio 4, nor do they want to listen to various ethnic musical genres. They want to listen to what Radio 6 plays - which incidentally is not offered by commercial music stations, and is therefore EXACTLY within the BBC's remit.

    They should take Radio 3 or 4 off of FM and put Radio 6 up instead.

  13. The Indomitable Gall

    RAJAR stats

    How can you discuss RAJAR stats for yoof channels when RAJAR only surveys homeowners, who are most well past 25....?

  14. matt 115
    Thumb Down

    Commercial Competition?

    Didnt they say one of the reasons for the cull was to allow more commercial competition? Seems to me the best way to do that would be to sack off Radio1 as there is loads of commerical stations that could absorb its market.

  15. Annihilator

    Dates are important

    Why is there a consistant lack of dates in any reports I see? Mark Thompson has confirmed it won't happen any sooner than 31/12/2011. Plenty of time for it to turn around.

    What needs to happen (if you're people are indeed upset by the potential loss) is to encourage friends to listen, petition etc. and grow the listening figures.

    I for one wouldn't be able to cope without my weekly dose of Ken Bruce Master.

    As pointed out on the Now Show, this smacks of the BBC making a preemptive strike against any incoming Tory government who are very insistent that they want to make cuts in public spending - but very reluctant to name specifics.

  16. Kevin Dwyer

    Oi! you young whippersnappers

    Got my bus pass last May, SIXTY bloody years old, I was twenty four a couple of years ago.

    We have Radio 2 on at work and while it is ok having familiar music going on in the background you soon realise that you are stuck in a time warp. ( and for those who listen to Jeremy Vine, is it me or has the show become a Daily Mail / Jeremy Kyle / Twatotron rantfest?)

    I listen to Six Radio at home, occasionally I hear something that really grabs me and think Wow!

    Six has introduced me to music that I would almost certainly not have heard through the usual channels. Maybe I am not the "Target Demographic" but still enjoy the output


  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh, stop whining!

    I for one am looking forward to the Freak Zone on Radio 2 just before The Organist Entertains.

    Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated (into a demographic of the BBC's choosing).

  18. Jimmy Floyd

    It's licenCe - with a 'C' (unless you're a Yank)

    @Matt Kimber

    I've wondered the same thing and I bloody hope you're right. Throw Murdoch a bone in the form of 6Music, wait for the inevitable backlash then grudgingly keep it going. In which case the Director-General isn't the muppet as he appears but an utter genius ... assuming it works.

    Why not axe 1Xtra? Well that would mean getting rid of both a black AND an Asian music station (anyone not see why that might be politically tricky?)...

  19. David Shaw
    Thumb Down

    I gave up on 6Music

    when Liz Kershaw was hosting a program, invited emails from the listeners discussing best Clash gig vs. best Oasis gig or some such nonsense. I wasted ten minutes of my life describing how Joe Strummer's trousers fell down at Leeds University in '77 and he came out with the quote "me B****ing trousers have fallen down, has any w*****r got a safety-pin?", which was hilarious in a Punk concert. (as was the number of ubiquitous pin devices subsequently hurled stageward) I didn't realise until the BluePeter Kittengate drama that Liz wasn't live - just pretending - and had presumably recorded all her years' 6Music shows one Tuesday in January and so never got my email. Close 6Music down!!!!

    Radio 3 recently has been playing some good stuff

    BBC should employ Steve Allen of LBC early breakfast show on Radio 2.

    What UK radiostation has playlisted Gorillaz?

    1. Smallbrainfield

      That would be 6music playlisting Gorillaz, actually.

      They didn't read out your e-mail and you want the station closed down?

      I once saw Don Henderson in Euston Station. I shouted 'DON' across the concourse and he ignored me. I've always fast forwarded through his scenes in Star Wars ever since. The bastard.

      1. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

        Re: That would be 6music playlisting Gorillaz, actually.

        This week's batch of buns goes to Smallbrainfield. None for the rest of you.

  20. jonathan rowe
    Thumb Up

    BBC PR Profit

    1. Threaten closure of previously sacred service providings

    2. Reprieve previously threatened sacred service providings

    3. erm, PR profit!

    Meanwhile the board are paid millions for doing sweet fuck all

  21. Paddy

    Keep 1Xtra

    There is so much more for their target audience to be doing. I think it is good to have an "Urban music" channel to attract that audience.

    (From someone well over 40 who doesn't mind an an incubator for Dizzee Rascal and Wiley to get mainstream).

  22. Richard Porter

    @Young listeners...

    "As their favourite disc jockeys move on from BBC Radio 1 to Radio 2. Tony Blackburn, Terry Wogan, Desmond Carrington... all started on pirate radio ships you know. (Well... partly true.)"

    Tony Blackburn certainly, along with many others. But Desmond Carrington first came to my attention as an actor playing Dr. Anderson in Emergency Ward 10. No idea where Wogan came from!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      No idea where Wogan came from!

      He was grown in a tank like all BBC personalities.

    2. Zimmer

      WOT? No Title ?

      .....No idea where Wogan came from!

      How about Ireland...

    3. Shades

      "No idea where Wogan came from!"

      Ireland, I believe! ;-)

    4. Kevin Dwyer


      Type your comment here — plain text only, no HTML

  23. DaveB

    History in the making

    There is something very wrong with the BBC. They are happy to overspend £1.05 billion on Broadcasting House, but not £8 million on 6Music.

    I for one would prefer my TV tax money was spent on a radio station not on a failed property development company.

  24. Ian Bush
    Big Brother

    If you want to be heard

    Hi All,

    Could I just encourage you all to go to

    if you've got something to sat about the BBC's review? I know it's theraputic to rant in El Reg, but there's a chance you might actually be heard if you rant there!


    1. Anonymous Coward

      The survey is worth taking time to fill out

      The consultation touches on the cuts (they are tackled directly later on in the survey so do pace out the venom), but is really about the future direction (as defined in A$$-speak) of the BBC and you can more or less bring up anything you like or dislike over the course of the review.

      Personally I took time to punt the El Reg opinion on the future (or lack there of) for DAB and the current approach for digital radio. (And yes, I did properly credit the El Reg). We can lead the BBC to dream of a future with digital radio "broadcasting" via 3G to your car radio (or some such), but can we get them to wake up and believe it?

  25. Anonymous Coward

    Is it cos I is black?

    That is all.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Where's the money?

    Large record companies are putting much more into the sort of music pushed by 1Xtra than they are that championed by 6 Music. So record companies will offer more support to 1Xtra than they will 6 Music.

    The BBC are at the mercy of the large record companies and putting out the programming the large record companies want. However they currently have two masters, one is the record industry, the other is the government forcing them to push the uptake of digital radio. However in this latest move they may be keeping the record companies happy, but they are losing 700,000 listeners for digital radio and no doubt upsetting the government in the process.

    Those of us who listened to 6 Music will now be pretty much limitted to listening to Mark and Maconie and their local station's new music segment, as far as the BBC's output is concerned. Or, more likely, not bothering to listen the the BBC at all.

    The joke about 1Xtra is that the BBC tried a few years ago to turn Radio 1 into what 1 Xtra was now and it's audience figures went into freefall. Even now their audiences have not fully recovered from that fuck up, but it seems the management at the BBC are still flogging that dead horse.

    Surely the relative listening figures of 1Xtra and 6 Music should convince the record companies that they are backing the wrong horse. Unfortunately it won't. The music industry has always found it impossible to spot trends. Remember the A&R man who told the Beatles that guitar bands had had their day? Unfortunately even after being proved wrong for very nearly fifty years the industry still believe that he was right.

  27. Anonymous Coward

    Very worried...

    ...about the box-ticking exercise of 6Music vs. 1Extra , but then again, the only BBC radio I listen to now is 5 Live anyway, so I can't complain about 6Music's death, even though it apparently seems to be aimed at my musical tastes.

    However, must point out that BBC3 avoided the BBC Trust's eye because I seem to remember reading somewhere that it's not covered by the licence fee, or a substantial amount of its programming comes from independent studios? I remember seeing a question about this when the adverts describing what the BBC Trust is, and how to enquire about how the licence fee is spent on television referred to you having any questions about BBC1, BBC2 and BBC4...

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    1Xtra - Black Music?!

    Isn't there enough of that on 'proper' R1 already?!

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hearts and minds, not wallets

    “All of which leaves us wondering why the BBC is so obsessed with reaching out to its "unique" audience of few-and-far-between youngsters, who just so happen to slot into that lucrative 16-to-35-year-olds' bracket that preoccupies the minds of ad execs across the land.”

    You’re dead off the mark with thinking that this is entirely for commercial reasons.

    The main reason is that this demographic – according to countless research, much of it the Beeb’s – is the one that least values the BBC brand. This is particularly true with the teen-early 20’s market – for a number of years, it’s very unusual for a BBC show to feature highly in top 10 most popular shows for this age group. Additionally, C4 is rated far far more highly than the Beeb.

    Why should the BBC care? Well, if this current demographic is the sign of how the BBC will be valued, there’s going to be an increasing amount of people who don’t care for the corporation or see the point of the license fee.

    At the height of Little Britain, you would be hard pressed to find a BBC suit that would privately admit to liking the show – in fact, most found it incredibly depressing that such a programme was so popular and couldn’t understand why it was in the first place – but it was beloved by many youngsters, so it was a valued show.

    With 1Extra, the simple fact is that the BBC thinks it can ‘reach’ out and convert younger people to the BBC brand. If you’ve been involved in pitches by media agencies to the BBC, who would know how desperate Auntie is trying to pull youngsters.

  30. Bram

    There is a reason

    The BBC has a mandate to produce content representative of the population, for the slower members that means they have to in order to recieve their license fees cash produce content that caters for all members of society.

    1Xtra has 550,000 listeners, there is approximately 2 million people within the UK who would classifiy themselves as Black African or Caribbean. This station is the only part of the BBC that produces content for this demographic.

    The BBC covers all other demographics in one of its mediums. 1Xtra also produces shows and informative programming as well as music from various African and Carribean countries and its the only national provider of this music.

    No commercial producer serves this audience because its too small.

    Please don't complain or say you can just put a few tracks on to radio one. 1Xtra its needed.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      No, Your wrong.

      Clearly 6music is the best station in the world ever and 1Xtra is rubbish because website aimed at an industry known for its imbalance twards white, middle age, middle class workers says so.

      Oh and because I pay taxes everyone must do as I say.

      Or at least that seems to be the attitude round here, and you are talking sense about the BBCs remit.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh No !! Sorry !! It's my fault.

    I recently did a RAJAR survey and lyingly me and my daughter included loads of entries for 1xtra despite never listening to it.

    Because I know somebody who works for it.

    Seriously though. The number of unique listeners for 1xtra says more about the lack of diversity (in every sense) on radio 1 rather than the appeal of 1xtra.

  32. richard 69
    Thumb Down

    big mistake bbc

    6music is great.

    the bbc are arrogant fucks who will not listen to our opinions.

    this is a real shame for the best music station - 6music.

    the bbc trust might do something decent.

    but unlikely.


  33. giddas

    Sorry this article is cobblers

    I listen to 6 music and think 1xtra is shite, but what the BBC says here is correct.

    As for satisfying commercial interests, who do you think is the more valuable demographic commercially, 1xtra or 6 music listeners?

    The BBC has been obsessed with "reach" for a long time, it can justify the license fee as applicable to all this way.

  34. Anonymous Coward

    Graphs with two shades of gray

    Ran out of colours?

  35. SlabMan

    Stations - who needs em?

    I'd happily subscribe to 6 Music's good shows as podcasts. This idea of stations/channels with distinct identities - bit old hat isn't it? Surely that died out along with fixed broadcast schedules.

  36. zenp

    ...calling all Terrans...

    "...without 6Music I see no need for a digital radio..."

    BBC World Service! It's the only radio station i can bear to listen to, the main reason i bought into the retarded concept of DAB...

  37. Dahak


    Surely the anwser is to scrap Radio 1 which provides little not available elsewhere, replace it with 1xtra and keep 6 Music.

    They could probably afford to get something worth showing on BBC 3 with the spare change.

  38. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    I confess

    I think Desmond Carrington wasn't on Radio 1, I was being deliberately silly. But Terry Wogan was. He used to stand in for Jimmy Young. But I don't think they were on the pirate ships - pirate radio, that is.

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