BBC Asian Network

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BBC Asian Network
BBC Asian Network 2022.svg
Logo used since 2022
Broadcast areaUnited Kingdom and Internationally via Satellite and BBC Sounds
FormatMusic, News & Entertainment
First air date
  • 4 November 1996; 26 years ago (1996-11-04) (on AM in the Midlands)
  • 28 October 2002; 20 years ago (2002-10-28) (nationally on DAB)
WebcastBBC Sounds Edit this at Wikidata

BBC Asian Network is a British Asian radio station owned and operated by the BBC. The station's target audience is people "with an interest in British Asian lifestyles",[2] especially British Asians between the ages of 18 and 34.[3] The station has production centres at Broadcasting House in London and The Mailbox in Birmingham.

The station broadcasts mainly in English, but has retained Sunday evening shows in South Asian languages. The Asian Network covers only the Indian subcontinent, with the rest of the continent – such as Japan and China – not covered by the station.

The station's output consists largely of music and talk programmes.[4] On Fridays at 3:00 p.m., the station broadcasts The Official Asian Music Chart,[5] compiled by the Official Charts Company and based on sales and streams across a seven-day period.[6]

According to RAJAR, the station broadcasts to a weekly audience of 444,000 with a listening share of 0.3% as of March 2023,[7]


Origins as a regional programme/station[edit]

By 1949, the BBC had introduced their first weekly Bengali language programme, Anjuman, through the efforts of Nazir Ahmed and Nurul Momen. Momen also conducted a children's programme titled Kakoli. The BBC was later joined by more Bengalis such as Fateh Lohani and Fazle Lohani.[8] BBC television had also 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 1976 BBC Radio Leicester, responding to the growth of the size of the South Asian population and rising racial tension in Leicester, introduced a daily community show called Six Fifteen, aimed primarily at that community in the city. By 1977, CRE research showed that the programme regularly reached 67% of the South Asian community in Leicester. BBC Radio Leicester dominated the provision of Asian programming on BBC local radio and by 1990 was producing one third of the output.[9] In 1989, BBC WM, the BBC radio station for the Midlands, followed Radio Leicester's lead and introduced a similar daily show as part of a new Midlands Asian Network.

On 30 October 1989, The Asian Network was launched on the MW transmitters of BBC WM and BBC Radio Leicester, with a combined output of 57 hours per week. This was extended to 86 hours a week in 1995 and on 4 November 1996 the station became a full-time service, on air for eighteen hours a day in Leicester and Birmingham, and was relaunched as the BBC Asian Network with programming also broadcast on the MW transmitters of stations with large Asian communities (with the exception of BBC GLR which was an FM-only station).

Station goes national[edit]

BBC Asian Network studio at The Mailbox shopping centre, Birmingham

In November 1999, as part of the addition of a suite of BBC and commercial radio services to the Sky Digital satellite television platform, BBC Asian Network was made available to Sky viewers alongside BBC Radio 1, BBC Radio 2, BBC Radio 3, BBC Radio 4, BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC World Service, BBC Radio Scotland, BBC Radio Wales and BBC Radio Ulster.

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".

2006 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 until 2010[edit]

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

Following the reduction 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.[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]


In March 2022, BBC Introducing on Asian Network with Jasmine Takhar was nominated for Best Radio Show at the Music Week Awards. The show is the first from the Asian Network to be nominated by the Music Week Awards.

In February 2023, the Asian Network breakfast show with Nikita Kanda went on a three city tour marking the first tour by the network. The cities included Liverpool, Manchester and Glasgow.

In March 2023, BBC Introducing on Asian Network with Jasmine Takhar was nominated for Best Radio Show at the Music Week Awards for the second year running. The show also celebrated International Women’s Day by selecting 4 female talent for a live session at the world famous Maida Vale studios hosted by Jasmine Takhar. The talent include SHVVN, Nova, Saloni and Diana Drill.

Love Island season 9 winners Sanam and Kai co-hosted the Asian Network breakfast show with Nikita Kanda.

It was announced in April 2023, that the BBC Asian Network through BBC Introducing will have a showcase at the Great Escape Festival on Friday 12 May at the Paganini Ballroom in Brighton. Jasmine Takhar will host the Introducing on the Asian Network stage takeover bringing artists to perform including Tara Lily, Pritt, H33RA and Asha Gold.

In May 2023, Nikita Kanda and Haroon Rashid went to Abu Dhabi for the IIFA awards bringing the latest news and backstage gossip with interviews from Abhishek Bachchan, Nora Fatehi, Rajkumar Rao and more.

Threat of closure, performance and controversies[edit]

Threat of closure[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 Radio 6 Music – was later confirmed on 2 March.[15]

A letter was written to the BBC Trust and had been signed by various people.[16] The BBC Trust later rejected plans to close 6 Music and also rejected the plans to close the Asian Network.[17]

On 14 March 2011, the BBC announced it was reconsidering its plan to close the station in favour of reducing its budget by 50%.[18]

Rotherham sex abuse scandal controversy[edit]

In 2018, the station's Head of News Arif Ansari was charged under the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 1992 after a reporter was thought to have named a victim of the Rotherham child sexual exploitation scandal during a live news bulletin.[19][20] In January 2019, he was cleared when a judge ruled that Ansari was not at fault and had been incorrectly told the name of the victim was a pseudonym. He was the first BBC editor to be tried under the legislation.[21]

Notable presenters[edit]

Former presenters[edit]


  1. ^ BBC Asian Network Frequency
  2. ^ BBC - About Asian Network
  3. ^ BBC Radio - Information for suppliers to Radio - BBC Asian Network
  4. ^ BBC Asian Network
  5. ^ BBC Asian Network - The Official Asian Music Chart
  6. ^ Asian Music Chart Top 40 | Official Charts Company
  7. ^ RAJAR Website BBC Asian Network
  8. ^ Hayat, Anupam (2012). "Ahmed, Nazir". In Islam, Sirajul; Miah, Sajahan; Khanam, Mahfuza; Ahmed, Sabbir (eds.). Banglapedia: the National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh (Online ed.). Dhaka, Bangladesh: Banglapedia Trust, Asiatic Society of Bangladesh. ISBN 984-32-0576-6. OCLC 52727562. OL 30677644M. Retrieved 9 June 2023.
  9. ^ McCarthy, Liam (2020). Dr. Connecting with new Asian communities: BBC Local Radio 1967-1990 (thesis). University of Leicester. doi:10.25392/ Retrieved 16 June 2021.
  10. ^ The New Schedule, April 2006
  11. ^ Image Dissectors
  12. ^ Changes to drama on BBC Asian Network BBC Press Release, 16 November 2009.
  13. ^ Press Release, 8 August 2010
  14. ^ "BBC signals an end to era of expansion" 2010-02-26 Retrieved 2010-02-260
  15. ^ John Plunkett "BBC confirms plans to axe 6 Music and Asian Network", The Guardian 2 March 2010
  16. ^ "BBC Asian Network is a vital platform", [1], The Guardian 6 March 2010
  17. ^ BBC Trust rejects 6 Music closure plan [2] BBC News, 5 July 2010
  18. ^ "BBC considers Asian Network U-turn". BBC News. 14 March 2011.
  19. ^ "BBC journalist Arif Ansari to go on trial accused of naming Rotherham grooming victim". The Independent. 11 October 2018. Retrieved 9 January 2019.
  20. ^ "BBC editor denies naming abuse victim". BBC News. 11 October 2018. Retrieved 9 January 2019.
  21. ^ "BBC Asian Network editor found not guilty of 'honest mistake'". BBC News. 18 January 2019. Retrieved 11 August 2021.

External links[edit]