The BBC is to cut the number of regional BBC Introducing programmes from 32 to 20.
- READ MORE: Inside the fight to save the local BBC Introducing shows: “It’s so much bigger than just radio play”
Changes to the system had been anticipated since late last year as part of the broadcaster’s plans to reorganise local services. However, it was suggested that the number of programmes could be cut to just 11, prompting a campaign to save the platform in which a group of music organisers wrote to the BBC to express their “grave concerns” over BBC Introducing’s future.
Now, the BBC has said in a statement that it will “continue to celebrate local music across England with fresh plans for BBC Introducing on local radio and BBC Sounds”. The number of programmes being cut or merged is not as high as anticipated, while the frequency of broadcast will increase to twice a week. BBC Introducing programmes will now air on Thursday nights as well as in its current Saturday night slot.
There have currently been no details of which stations will see their BBC Introducing programmes cut or merged.
The broadcaster has also announced more new band-orientated features on the BBC Sounds app, including a ‘Local to me’ section where users can check out music from new artists in their area.
In addition, an ‘Introducing Artist of the Week’ will feature on all 39 of BBC’s local stations, with chosen tracks set to receive peak time airplay. BBC has also promised that all local stations will “retain music expertise on site to support the production of the programmes and bring in new talent”. This will involve the creation of new roles to produce on demand audio for BBC Sounds.
Chris Burns, Controller of Local Audio Commissioning said: “The Introducing shows on local BBC stations play an important part in supporting new talent – and will continue to do so – but we know more people are turning to BBC Sounds to listen and we want to do more on there and in our peak daytime schedules to showcase new talent.”
BBC Introducing has been responsible for stars such as Ed Sheeran, George Ezra and Little Simz getting their starts. Artists can submit their music onto the website for consideration. At present, the BBC Music Introducing website receives in excess of 5,000 tracks from new artists a week.
NME spoke to various artists and industry names about the fight to save BBC Introducing last month. Lewis Whiting, guitarist of Leeds’ English Teacher, described the support the band received from BBC Introducing as “invaluable”, adding: “It’s the main thing local bands strive for: you can see that, from the past, local BBC Introducing airplay has produced results and made bands’ careers more tangible. It gave us a future.”
More than one source expressed concern over the BBC “regionalising” shows. Regionalising shows is just one step towards getting rid of them completely, and therefore cutting off a vital platform for new artists to get their music heard,” said BBC Radio London presenter Jess Iszatt.