As a regionalist party, you might think that we would welcome the proposals to consolidate the 32 BBC Music Introducing local radio shows into ten regional shows. Not so. Firstly the regions proposed once again split Wessex between South East and South West government zones. More importantly, our vision is for power to be devolved downwards from the centre, not upwards from local communities. This consolidation represents the antithesis of the type of regionalism we seek.
The five BBC Introducing shows in Wessex (one of which is shared with Cornwall) perform a vital function in allowing independent musicians from across the region to get radio airplay and perform at sponsored gigs, including the BBC Introducing stage at Glastonbury, without having to pay pluggers or be signed up by a multinational record label. Successful Wessex musicians who got their first break via the programmes include IDLES, Wet Leg, Gabrielle Aplin, Fenne Lily, and George Ezra. Cutting the five shows to two will inevitably result in fewer artists being played. It cannot be justified on grounds of excessive cost, since tracks are uploaded directly by the artist, so there are no middlemen to pay as there would be for most music radio shows. The DJs are intimately involved with their local music scene, which would inevitably suffer under consolidation.
The BBC Introducing shows are not perfect. They have been criticised for being too white and too focussed on indie at the expense of other genres. Moreover, we would regret Cornwall being lumped together with Devon, instead of its distinctive national identity being respected. But the former criticism is already being addressed, while the latter will not be improved by absorbing it into a show covering the whole of the South West government zone. We fully support the campaign to retain the existing shows (you can send messages of support here), and see the proposals as yet another example of this government’s philistinism. Further proof, if any is needed, that the London parties only care about London.