“Biggest threat ever” to BBC local radio

  • 31 Oct 2022

Significant cuts will mean shared programming across the network.

The BBC has announced significant cuts across the board in local radio, as it seeks to save money and shift the corporation towards prioritising digital content.

Paul Siegert, NUJ national broadcasting officer said:

“This is the biggest threat facing local radio since it launched in 1967. The key to its success over the past 50 years has been its localness. When it stops being local it loses its USP. People in Kent don’t care about what is going on in Sussex. If these proposals are allowed to go ahead it will be the beginning of the end for local radio. The NUJ is not opposed to the BBC investing in digital services, but it should not be at the expense of local radio and the provision of quality local news and information to the communities it serves. Over 5 million people listen to it and many of them pay their licence fee largely because of local radio. Tonight, they have every right to be angry.”

Most output in the afternoons and evenings will now be shared. Overall, BBC local staffing in England is expected to reduce by around 48 posts. There will be around 131 additional roles across local news services, with around 139 fewer roles in radio teams as greater programme sharing is introduced. This includes the 40 posts closing due to documentary series We are England coming to an end, which was announced in May.

The BBC said it “plans to increase its investment in local current affairs by about 40 percent by establishing 11 investigative reporting teams across England. This will see the creation of 71 new journalism roles. The teams will deliver original stories across tv, radio and online services - as well as producing over 20 TV documentary programmes each year”.

The licence fee was frozen for two years by the government in January. Wider BBC savings of £500m have previously been announced, with CBBC and BBC Four scheduled to move online in the future. There are also plans to replace the BBC News Channel and BBC World with one rolling news network. Cuts at the World Service have also been announed.

Proposed changes to BBC Local Radio

  • All 39 BBC Local Radio stations will continue with their own dedicated local programming from 6am to 2pm on weekdays. Since 2020 all local stations have broadcast three daytime programmes on weekdays (6am to 6pm), this will now reduce to two on many of our smaller stations.
  • Across the week, all live sports programming will be maintained across all local stations.
  • Local news bulletin services will be protected across the day on all local stations.
  • After 2pm on weekdays, the BBC will produce 18 afternoon programmes across England - with a number of local stations sharing programming. Additional investment will support the production of these new programmes.
  • There will be ten local programmes across England between 6pm-10pm on weekdays, across the day on Saturday, and on Sunday mornings. These programmes will serve areas that broadly mirror our existing local television areas. This is in addition to any live sports programming which will continue to be broadcast locally.
  • A national ‘all-England’ programme will be launched after 10pm across the week and on Sunday afternoons and evenings. Again, this will be in addition to any live sports programming which will continue to be broadcast locally.

BBC local radio faces significant cuts to programming

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