Culture secretary John Whittingdale has moved to allay fears of cuts to BBC Music, calling the broadcaster “absolutely essential” to music in the UK.
Speaking at UK Music’s #LetItBeeb campaign event, Whittingdale, who is overseeing the BBC’s Royal Charter renewal, claimed to be a “huge fan of music”. He added: “I regard the BBC’s contribution to music in this country as absolutely essential.”
The MP said: “I want the BBC to go on providing services like Radio 1, Radio 2, Radio 3 – all of which cater for tastes which are not served by the commercial sector.
“In some ways, actually, my criticism of the BBC is that they don’t do enough for music. Radio is very well served but [on] TV, I’d actually like to see a bit more.
“As long as I am secretary of state, I will continue to support the BBC in highlighting the incredible talent that we have in this country.”
UK Music’s event at Westminster was attended by the likes of Sam Smith, Sandie Shaw and Jake Bugg. Smith, who recently scored the first ever James Bond No.1 with Writing’s On The Wall, told BBC News: “BBC music is one of the main reasons I am actually here, and where I am in my career.
“The thought of not having it and not having some of the programmes is worrying to me. I’m worried for the new artists and how they’ll be heard and if they’ll be heard.”
UK Music’s petition to “protect BBC music services” has been signed by a variety of artists and industry figures, including Sir Paul McCartney, Boy George, New Order, George Ezra, Little Mix, Rita Ora, Jessie Ware, Paloma Faith, Disclosure, Sting, Chrissie Hynde, Annie Lennox and Glastonbury organiser Emily Eavis.
Of the campaign, Whittingdale said: “I haven’t seen your petition but I think I’d be very willing to sign it.”