Rival Avtar Lit slams ‘Mediocre’ BBC Asian NetworkSunrise Radio founder Avtar Lit, who has been named as one of the 20 most powerful Asians in the UK, has described the output of BBC Asian Network as "mediocre" and also that the digital station missed a "wonderful opportunity" to embrace British Asians.

As plans to axe Asian Network and BBC 6 Music as part of a major overhaul of the corporation has been leaked on Friday, a campaign started on Facebook to save Asian Network, which has already attracted over 7,000 members.

BBC director general Mark Thompson confirmed the plans today.

However, Lit seems to disagree with the public stating to The Guardian that the station has been given a "bloody nose" by its commercial rivals and the Asian community "wouldn't give a toss" if it went off air.

‘They had a wonderful opportunity to connect with the Asian community and it has been rejected,’ said Lit.

He believes that, ‘The BBC was never really serious about providing a service for the Asian community. It's a token service, they have ignored them for decades.’

He also added: "The difficulty is I don't think anyone knows what they are doing there. They are all politically correct and not running it like a business. They are not living in the real world, they are not living in the Asian community.’

Asian Network was launched on analogue in 1988 and went digital in 2002. Now it has an annual budget of £12.1 million. The station achieved an average weekly reach of 360,000 listeners in the final quarter of 2009, down from 379,000 in the same period in 2008 and 535,000 five years ago.

As Sunrise Radio costs around £3.5m a year to run, Lit said that he was "absolutely amazed" to hear the size of Asian Network's budget considering its "mediocre" programmes and presenters.

"How do you spend £12m on a radio station when the entire commercial radio industry's budget [for Asian stations] including community stations up and down the country doesn't even touch £9m? I would be more than happy to programme the Asian Network for £3m a year," he said.

"They went head-to-head with commercial broadcasters. If they had done more speech programming they might have fared better. There has been a lack of understanding in senior management."

Asians in Media editor Sunny Hundal claimed that it is vital for the station to remain in operation as it provides a platform for Asian music, despite being a "constant critic" of Asian Network, he believes that, ‘Axing Asian Network would kill off vital media space for a lot of British Asian content and culture that does not get represented on commercial alternatives,’ said Hundal.

He added, ‘It is within the BBC's remit to represent and give a platform to minority interests that need a mainstream platform to develop and grow.’

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