It is the ultimate social media PR trick. A company threatens to pull a brand and then sits back and watches as fans start huge Facebook/Twitter/blog campaign to save it.
It worked a treat for Wispa and in a smaller way for Subbuteo and now it seems that BBC’s Dir Gen Mark Thompson is about to pull it off again for BBC 6 Music.
Here’s the theory
1 The BBC needs to be seen to be making cuts. If it doesn’t it knows that the Tories (and maybe even Labour) will hack away at the licence fee and reduce its budget after the election.
2 Closing a few websites (many of which have been mothballed already) won’t be enough to pacify James Murdoch and his pals in the Tory party, so Thompson needs a good headline.
3 Thompson knows that of all the channels/stations it could close BBC 6 Music is the one most likely to trigger a campaign to ensure its survival. Even before Tuesday there was a Facebook group with over 50,000 supporters.
4 So by threatenign to close 6 Music Thompson looks as if he is seriously making cuts (although its closure will save less than £6 million a year – which is twice Anne Robinson’s salary – a drop in the ocean).
5 However he knows that the campaign to save it will give the station a huge fillip and will almost certainly significantly increase the number of listeners it gets.
6 Eventually the BBC Trust will save 6 Music making the BBC look like it is listening to its customers. Sir Michael Lyons has already hinted it will be saved.
7 BBC 6 Music will continue with a much higher profile
8 The BBC and Thompson in particular manage to look like it is making cuts when in reality it has just undertaken a bit of good housekeepin
He might be smug, but that Mark Thompson sure is clever. However the Tories are very quiet on the BBC at the moment. Slicing up the BBC is not much of a vote winner. The Murdochs will however want their pound of flesh and I can’t believe that the Tories won’t be taking a knife to the BBC if they win the election.