Here is what has been on Twitter. We’re hearing that the band will be booked by the BBC for a fifth of the sessions it previously had, but that the restrictions on the “use of the name” will hamper its ability to get booked externally.
TEXT OF PETITION: The BBC Big Band is a national institution and has been for the last 48 years – they have been the inspiration for musicians all over the world and are the epitome of a world class band. The radio programme “Big Band Special” is being cut and the Maida Vale sessions are being cut to 20% of what they currently do!! A cut of 80%. We are petitioning that these cuts do not go ahead.
UPDATE (3) 7th September: Since we posted on Tuesday night 3rd, we’ve been asking BBC Radio 2 and the Musician’s Union for a statement. We don’t exactly get the feeling that this issue arouses much sense of either importance or urgency. I don’t mean urgency about responding to me, rather having a coherent stance on the action which has been taken. The BBC say they’ll send us a statement as soon as they have it. The MU took a couple of days respond directly. A third party had told us that the union is aware of the situation, and I eventually got a holding response saying they’d get back ASAP. The petition meanwhile is up to 2400 signatures.
UPDATE (4) 7th September 7pm. The Musicians Union has put out the following preliminary statement: (link here)
MU deplores decision to reduce Big Band live broadcasts
The Union, while set to issue a full statement next week, deplores the decision by the BBC to reduce the broadcast opportunities for the BBC Big Band. To a large extent it is studio broadcasts of live music that distinguishes the BBC from its commercial rivals. The dumbing down of Radio 2 in this way is a major blow to the provision of broadcast live music in this country. UPDATE (5) 10th SEPTEMBER The Telegraph online has published a comment piece which contains the first official BBC comment, from Lewis Carnie, Head of Programmes at BBC Radio 2, which appears to indicate that this shameful decision is his : “I wanted to expand our big band programming but, with reduced funds across the BBC, we could no longer afford to commit to regular big band recordings.” UPDATE (6) 19th September Rob Wilson MP has allowed his correspondence with Lewis Carnie of Radio 2 to be published. Read it here. The key sentence as regards the future of the band is this from Carnie: It is also worth mentioning that the band – which is comprised of a group of freelance commercial artists – can continue to call themselves the BBC Big Band and, as such, continue their commercial performing work under this banner. Comment: An issue for the band in the past has been the tight control on such activity. This sentence doesn’t say whether that attitude from the corporation has changed, although it does leave hope that it might. There is of course no individual within the BBC with a remit for jazz across platforms – the BBC’s jazz representative at the EBU is not a BBC employee but an external producer.