- guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 2 March 2010 11.02 GMT
BBC director general Mark Thompson's strategy review confirmed 6 Music listeners' worst fears by recommending that the station should be closed at the end of 2011.
The review said 6 Music delivered "relatively few unique listeners to BBC radio".
"Given the strength of its popular music radio offering from Radio 1 and 2 and the opportunity to increase the distinctiveness of Radio 2, the BBC has concluded that the most effective and efficient way to deliver popular music on radio is to focus investment on these core networks," it said.
The BBC would review how some of 6 Music's "most distinctive programmes can be successfully transferred to other BBC radio stations, and how its support for new and specialist music can be sustained across the BBC".
With an average listener age of 37, the report said, 6 Music "competes head on for a commercially valuable audience". Closing it, and refocusing BBC Radios 1 and 2, would "recognise the lead role that commercial radio plays in serving popular music to 30- to 50-year-old audiences".
The review proposed that the Asian Network should be closed as a national service, but could possibly be replaced by a network of part-time local services with some syndicated national programmes on digital audio broadcasting (DAB) and medium wave in areas with large British Asian communities.
In a wide-ranging shakeup of the BBC's digital radio offerings, it said the spoken-word station BBC Radio 7 – its most successful digital-only station – should broadcast more new content and develop closer ties with Radio 4, "culminating in the rebranding of the station as 'Radio 4 Extra' ".
It will also develop further ties between Radio 1 and its digital sister station, 1Xtra.
The report said the BBC's cheapest digital station, the part-time network BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra, "provides a good model for how digital-only services can complement their analogue sister stations".
The digital teen services BBC Switch and Blast! were not reaching their target audiences effectively and should be shut, it said.
"Although the BBC should continue to offer high-quality programmes and services which appeal to teenagers, and should continue to commission some content in all media specifically aimed at younger teenage audiences, it should accept that its role in addressing the gap in public service television for this audience group will be secondary to that of Channel 4 and other broadcasters."
The report said BBC local radio had to improve "its quality and originality", with more to be invested in local journalism.
Local websites will be refocused to carry only news, sport, weather, travel and "local knowledge content". A new "contract for local" will define a series of BBC commitments and limits, "including a commitment never to becoming any more local in England – that is, never to increase the BBC's number of local services on television, radio and online or to make any existing services more local".
The report warned that BBC Radio 1 had to "work hard to ensure it remains distinctive" from commercial radio, and increase its commitment to new and live music.
And it said Radio 2 should become "significantly and demonstrably more distinctive", reinforcing and in some respects going further than the findings of a recent BBC Trust review of the service.
The strategic review also called for a shake-up of BBC local radio to reverse a 15% decline in its audience in the five years until 2008-09.
Non-peak programming will be syndicated across local BBC stations in England to free up funding to invest in local news at peaktime – breakfast, mid-morning and drivetime.
The music policy on local radio stations in England will also change, with current and recent chart hits to account for no more than 15% of weekly music output.
The report said the fall in listening had been concentrated in urban areas and among the over-65s, the same demographic that has also been switching off BBC Radio 2.
"[They] have either turned off radio altogether or migrated to Radio 4 and national commercial stations. To stop the decline, the service needs to renew itself, focusing on its distinctive mission and improving quality so it can reach its heartland older audience more effectively," said the review.
Local radio in England will see a "renewed emphasis on speech radio and journalistic content which holds local democracy to account", with a commitment to 100% speech content at drivetime.
Local stations will also introduce a new monthly programme "to hold the elected and the powerful in local politics to account".
• To contact the MediaGuardian news desk email email@example.com or phone 020 3353 3857. For all other inquiries please call the main Guardian switchboard on 020 3353 2000.
• If you are writing a comment for publication, please mark clearly "for publication".