A collection of music organisations have shared their “grave concerns” with the BBC over the future of the broadcaster’s platform to support up and coming musical talent, BBC Introducing.
In a letter to the BBC’s chairman, Richard Sharp, a group of representatives from organisations in the music industry asked for assurance that the BBC Introducing platform will be protected amid cuts to local BBC radio stations.
The representatives – including Mark Davyd, CEO of the Music Venue Trust, Jon Collins, CEO of LIVE and the CEO of the Association of Independent Music, Silvia Montello – wrote that BBC Introducing plays a “vital role” in the discovery and promotion of new and emerging artists.
The letter also referred to the initiative – which launched in 2007 as a dedicated resource for discovering and supporting unsigned artists – as “a prime example of what the BBC does best that no other broadcaster can do”.
“BBC Introducing programming directly addresses the core aims of the BBC, acting in the public interest, serving all audiences and delivering impartial, high-quality and distinctive output and services which inform, educate and entertain,” wrote the representatives.
They added: “Despite this, we understand that the entire network of presenters and producers has been placed on notice of potential redundancies, and that the programmes they create may be under threat as a result of wider cuts to the BBC’s network of local radio stations.”
The BBC Introducing platform has previously helped launch the careers of the likes of George Ezra, Ed Sheeran and Florence + the Machine.
The BBC plans for local radio stations to share more content and broadcast less programming unique to their areas.
Proposals confirmed by the broadcaster include the loss of 48 jobs across local staffing in England, amounting to a total reduction of 2%.
The plans will see local programming restricted to weekdays before 2pm and the BBC will produce 18 afternoon programmes across England that will be shared between its 39 stations.
Ten local programmes will then be shared between 6pm and 10pm on weekdays, all day on Saturday and on Sunday mornings, serving areas broadly mirroring existing local TV areas
The proposals come as part of the BBC’s new strategy, announced in May, to create a “modern, digital-led” broadcaster.
The letter referenced the BBC’s plans, describing the prospect of redundancies and possible cuts to programmes as “a fundamental blow to the health of the entire grassroots sector”.
It went on to say: “New and emerging artists already face significant obstacles to breaking into the music industry, challenges that are amplified for those artists and musicians living outside of the major cities.
“BBC Introducing has been essential in providing access routes into the industry, with local and regional opportunities available right across the country.
“Whatever reorganisation might be required to meet the demands of the future stability and viability of the BBC, it should not be the case that BBC Introducing is the unintended victim of those changes.”
The letter ultimately called for Sharp, 66, who has been chair of the BBC board since 2021, to offer “urgent assurance” that he and the broadcaster’s board “understand the vital role of BBC Introducing”.
The letter also asked for an update on how the BBC plan to “protect” the future of BBC Introducing, with the representatives saying they would “welcome the opportunity to discuss with you how it can be developed, enhanced and improved to achieve even more for the communities it serves”.
In response to the letter, a BBC spokesperson said: “Our new local radio schedules will be announced in due course but they will not compromise the essence of BBC Introducing.
“We‘re committed to maintaining dedicated support for discovering and sharing the work of new talent at each of our 39 local radio stations. Local radio will continue to celebrate local artists and be an entry point for talent.
“We need to acknowledge the changing listening habits of audiences and the intention is to reach even more people. Every local radio station has a place on BBC Sounds which has a fixed Introducing slot featuring prominently with more content than radio schedules could ever accommodate.
“We also regularly feature Introducing tracks and artists on breakfast shows and that will continue too.”