Elton John has joined the criticism of cuts across BBC Introducing, calling it “a worrying step” that shows a “neglect of musicians”.
- READ MORE: Inside the fight to save the local BBC Introducing shows: “It’s so much bigger than just radio play”
At the start of 2023, the BBC confirmed plans to merge local Introducing shows across its network, leading to a campaign to keep the existing structure which has been supported by the likes of Nile Rodgers.
Taking to Instagram, John also shared his worry at the news, writing: “BBC Introducing’s network and support of new music has been one of the best ways for emerging artists to get airplay and find listeners from local to national radio.
“After reading recent reports of cuts to certain services, I look forward to seeing the BBC make good on their promise to continue to support up-and-coming acts and not compromise the essence of BBC Introducing.”
He added: “To stop investing in the future of the UK’s influential music industry whilst cuts are being made to the creative sector across the board would be a worrying step and neglect of musicians who bring culture and capital to the UK at home and abroad.”
The restructuring is set to see the BBC Introducing local network in England and the channel islands cut back from 32 shows to 20 – and numerous presenters and production staff out of their jobs.
Rodgers described the network as “a true outlet to shine a positive light on some of our most creative talent” and the upcoming change as causing both emerging talent and local music scenes to “lose out”.
Another to criticise the changes is BBC 6 Music broadcaster Tom Robinson, who launched a campaign asking listeners to post messages of support for local BBC Introducing presenters to his blog to raise public awareness of the situation.
“Those shows, staffed by enthusiasts and volunteers have been supporting local music communities around the country with airplay, interviews and sessions ever since the network was founded in 2007. Many have worked to set up local gigs, festival stages and outside broadcasts for musicians in their area,” he wrote in the blog update. “From August onwards, all that is about to change.”
An NME feature about the changes added: “Even if they are to become wider regional shows, the pool of talent that will successfully make it onto the airwaves in the future will likely become smaller.
“The current infrastructure preserves the autonomy of local radio, and eases some of the earlier upward steps musicians have to make by providing contacts, music education and gigs in places where opportunities are few.”