BBC Asian Network

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BBC Asian Network
BBC Asian Network logo
Broadcast area United Kingdom - national
Frequency MW: Various (Restricted Coverage)
DAB: 12B
Freeview: 709
Freesat: 709
Sky (UK only): 0119
Virgin Media: 912
First air date 1976 BBC Radio Leicester show
1988 as The Asian Network
- BBC Radio Leicester & BBC WM
1996 as separate channel on AM
2002 Nationally on DAB [1]
Format Music, News & Entertainment
Audience share 0.3% (December 2012, [2])
Owner BBC
Webcast Web Stream

BBC Asian Network is a British radio station whose output is targeted to serve people of South Asian descent (Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Sri Lankans), or with an interest in South Asian affairs. The music and news comes out of the main urban areas where there are significant communities with these backgrounds. The station has production centres in Birmingham, The Mailbox and London, Broadcasting House. Its 'parent' station is BBC Radio 2 at Western House and it is part of the BBC Audio and Music division.

BBC Asian Network broadcasts mainly in English, but also have programmes in five south Asian languages – Hindi/Urdu, Punjabi, Bengali, Gujarati and the Mirpuri dialect of the Potwari language. The name of the station relies on the fact that in Britain "Asian" has historically been appropriated by British people of South Asian descent to describe and distinguish themselves (whereas for example in America the term "Asian" has been appropriated by people of Korean, Japanese or Chinese descent, and is less commonly associated with people of South Asian descent). The Asian Network is therefore targeted at serving mainly those of South Asian descent, or with an interest in South Asian affairs. The station's output consists largely of music and talk programmes, although there is a daily documentary series Asian Network Reports and a now-discontinued daily soap opera Silver Street.[3] Over mid-2009, the Asian network provided coverage at melas across the UK as part of the 'Summer Of Melas'.[4]

In March 2010 the station, which has the highest per-listener budget of all UK radio stations,[5][6] was threatened with closure, along with BBC 6 Music.[7] A year later, following consultation the BBC Trust announced it was reconsidering its plan to close the station in favour of reducing its budget.[8] It was eventually decided not to close the station and by October 2014 the station had exceeded the target of 600,000[9] listeners which BBC Trust had set in 2011.


BBC Asian Network studio at The Mailbox shopping centre, Birmingham


BBC television had broadcast an Asian news programme, Nai Zindagi Naya Jeevan, since 1968 from its studios in Birmingham; this series followed a traditional news and current affairs format.

In 1977 BBC Radio Leicester, responding to the growth of the size of the South Asian population in Leicester, introduced a daily show aimed primarily at that community in the city. At one point the audience consisted of 67 per cent of the South Asian community in Leicester.[citation needed] In 1979, BBC WM, the BBC radio station for the Midlands, followed Leicester's lead and introduced a similar daily show.

On 30 October 1988 The Asian Network was launched on BBC WM and BBC Radio Leicester with a combined output of 70 hours per week, and in 1996 the station was relaunched as BBC Asian Network.

BBC Asian Network goes national[edit]

On Monday 28 October 2002 it was relaunched for the DAB Digital Radio system, now broadcasting nationwide.

In January 2006, the BBC announced that they were investing an extra £1m in the BBC Asian Network, and increasing the number of full-time staff by 30% in a bid to make British South Asian interests 'a mainstream part of the corporation's output' .

Branding and schedule changes[edit]

In April 2006 the first wave of schedule changes were introduced with further changes coming into effect on 14 May and 21 May with weekend changes occurring from 17 June.[10] In August 2007, the Asian Network received a new logo as part of a general re-brand of all national BBC stations. In 2009, this was re-branded again to add prominence to the Asian aspect of the logo.

Drama output[edit]

One of the most significant programmes in the Asian Network lineup was an ongoing Asian soap opera Silver Street which was first broadcast in 2004. Storylines focussed on the lives of a British South Asian community in an English town of unspecified name and location, with themes that generally related to issues that affect the daily lives of British South Asians and their neighbours.

Following a cutting of episode lengths to five minutes per day and continued falling listenership, on 16 November 2009 the BBC announced they would be cancelling Silver Street.[11] The last episode was broadcast in March 2010.

The cancellation grew out of many criticisms of the Asian Network in the BBC Trust's annual report. In July 2009 it was revealed that the Asian Network had lost over 20% of its listeners in a single year and, per listener, was the most costly and expensive BBC radio station to run.[12]

Silver Street was replaced by monthly half hour dramas and in August 2010, BBC Asian Network announced it would be launching a new drama season from 1 September 2010.[13]

Possible closure and turn around in falling audiences[edit]

On 26 February 2010 The Times reported that Mark Thompson, Director General of the BBC, proposed closing the station in a bid to scale back BBC operations and allow commercial rivals more room.[14] The proposal of closure – along with BBC 6 Music – was later confirmed on 2 March.[15] A letter was written to the BBC Trust and signed by various people – although the number of signatories also included a number signing their name at least more than once; as both a single name and as part of a collective,[16] with many AN listeners advocating keeping their station at the expense of the more popular 6 Music,[17] although the BBC Trust later rejected plans to close 6 Music and approved the plans to close AN.[18] On 14 March 2011, the BBC announced it was reconsidering its plan to close the station in favour of reducing its budget in half.[19]

In 2011, the BBC ruled there would be a 46% reduction in AN's budget and a declared target of 600,000 listeners a week; with actual audience numbers only reaching 507,000.[20] In 2012, audience numbers fell even further; peaking at only 453,000.[21] Even with the budget reductions, in 2013 AN still had the largest budget of the BBC's digital-only radio stations at £13m; despite having the lowest audience figures by far.[22]

However, by Q2 2014 Rajar figures showed that AN had turned around from its previous decline and was drawing a weekly audience of 552,000 listeners, and by Q3 2014 this had gone up to 629,000,[23] comfortably exceeding the target set in 2011.

Programmes and presenters[edit]

The BBC Asian Network features a generally regular schedule of programming in English and South Asian languages. Many programmes are named after the usual presenter. Programmes are presented in English except where noted otherwise.

Current programmes[edit]

  • Asian Network Reports (Daily news programme Mon-Fri / 1300-1330 and 1700-1730)
  • Ray Khan (Late show Mon-Thurs evening / 2100-0000)
  • Tommy Sandhu – (Breakfast / 0600-1000)
  • Nihal (The phone in programme / 1000-1300)
  • Bobby Friction (Early evening show Mon-Fri / 1730-2000)
  • Noreen Khan (Weekday Drive / 1330-1700)
  • Yasser (Late show Fri evening / 2100-0000)
  • Gagan Grewal (Weekend Breakfast / 0600-1000)
  • Murtz (The Request Show Sat / 1300-1500)
  • Panjabi Hit Squad (A mix of Hip-Hop, R'n'B, House, Bhangra and Bollywood on Saturdays / 1800-2100)
  • The Chart Show with Suzi Mann (Sat 1500-1800)
  • Love Bollywood every Saturday and Sunday with Raj & Pablo consisting of News, Entertainment & Gossip about Bollywood (Weekends / 1000-1300)
  • Music programmes on the BBC Asian Network – Music in various styles and in English and in various South Asian Languages
  • Mic Check with Kan D Man & Limelight*- Grime, Funky House, and Hip Hop (Every Saturday night from 2100-0000)
  • Sanjay Sharma (Retro Selection Sun / 1300-1600)
  • Saima Ajram (Sun / 1600-1800)
  • Dipps Bhamrah (Sun / 1800-2000)
  • Nadia Ali (Sun / 2000-2200)
  • Alpa Pandya (Sun / 2200-0000)

Current programme staff[edit]




Former presenters[edit]