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Busker pickets in bid to save BBC show that launched stars

PROTESTERS fighting to save a Radio 1 show which champions up-and-coming Scottish bands are today picketing BBC Scotland's Glasgow headquarters.

Campaigner Paul Downie, of music promoters Pelmet Nites, and the Scottish music blogger The Pop Cop, have organised a mass busking session at the Pacific Quay base. They want to save Introducing in Scotland, which airs the best new talent in the country, from the axe as the show is threatened by BBC cuts. The programme launched the careers of stars and bands including Paolo Nutini, Calvin Harris and Biffy Clyro.

The campaigners, who have gathered a 6,000-signature petition, hope to rescue the show from the cuts imposed by the BBC’s Delivering Quality First savings drive, which will see programming change and 2000 jobs lost, including 120 at BBC Scotland.

“Everyone on the Scottish music scene has the same feeling … that the cuts are wrong,” Downie said. “We decided the best way to get the message across was to show the BBC what they could lose by getting some of Scotland’s best new talent to perform outside Pacific Quay.”

He added that the petition to save Introducing in Scotland had more signatures per head of the population than a similar campaign to Save 6 Music.

The news that Introducing in Scotland, fronted by Ally McCrae, is earmarked for closure has prompted outrage across the Scottish music scene.

Speaking to the Sunday Herald last night, James Graham of indie band The Twilight Sad said the show is vital to the country’s music scene.

He explained: “It’s one of the first places young bands think to send their demos to and is an important platform for new music.

“You see Ally McCrae out at gigs all the time looking out for new talent and you know he really does care about new bands. We take Introducing in Scotland for granted but if it goes it will be really missed.”

Jenny Reeve, singer with Strike The Colours, also backed the campaign to save the show. She said: “The BBC pay TV presenters vast sums of money. By comparison, axeing Introducing in Scotland surely will not save them that much money.”

Broadcast on Radio 1 from midnight to 2am on a Monday morning, the show is planned to be axed in April alongside its Welsh and Northern Ireland counterparts and a single Introducing programme will replace them, highlighting talent from across the UK.

Downie and Pop Cop have also taken the campaign to Holyrood, meeting with Joan McAlpine, the SNP MSP who sits on the Scottish Parliament’s Education and Culture committee.

They also spent more than an hour with Bill Matthews, the BBC’s Trustee for Scotland, trying to persuade him of the show’s merits.

McAlpine said: “If future generations are going to enjoy the same success as some of the great Scottish artists around now they need a break, and Introducing in Scotland is a great platform.

“To lose Introducing would put a hole in our music scene. The campaigners have my support and we met with the BBC earlier this week to highlight how important the programme is.

“The more public support the more chance we have of keeping Introducing in Scotland on our airwaves and I’d urge anyone who wants to hear the best of new Scotish music to support the campaign.”

Jill O’Sullivan, of Sparrow and the Workshop, said the programme had been instrumental in securing a label deal for her band and also backed the protest.

She said: “We appeared on Introducing in Scotland when we were first starting out and that is what pricked the ears of our A&R man and led to us being signed. Without that platform who knows where we would have been. It’s absolutely outrageous that the BBC would even consider scrapping the show.”

And Scott Hutchison from Frightened Rabbit, an indie band based in Selkirk, added: “I am 100% against the closure of BBC Introducing in Scotland. I don’t know that there’s a single successful Scottish band out there that hasn’t been through the process of listening to the show, being on the show and using it as a platform for exposure.

“Losing Introducing in Scotland would be a travesty. Just having the show threatened is a travesty. For a small country we have got a massive output of music and we need our own show to reflect that.”

A spokesman for the BBC responded with the broadcaster’s previous statement, saying Radio 1 is committed to unsigned talent and would continue to support new acts in Scotland. He added that a merger with BBC Introducing would cost five times less than continuing to run the show in its current format.

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