Concerns raised by Public Accounts Committee about impact of BBC Local Radio cuts

  • 17 Apr 2024

Report on BBC's Across the UK programme criticises corporation

The NUJ has highlighted concerns about the impact of local radio cuts on listeners raised by a Public Accounts Committee report on the BBC’s Across the UK (ATUK) programme.

Under ATUK the BBC aims to move a further £700m of its spending outside of London by March 2028. 

According to the PAC the BBC, "lacks" a "clear plan to successfully deliver benefits of £700m in outside-London spending" and its report “raises concerns” over the “impact of local radio cuts as budget reallocations to online platforms effectively reduce services for some listeners.”

The PAC says: “Particular concerns relate to the BBC moving budgets from its local radio to local online services, in effect reducing services for older people or those less able to access online platforms, which was part of the original ATUK programme.

“The BBC’s reporting of ATUK – including in relation to local radio cuts – does not provide Parliament nor the public with a complete picture of progress.

"The PAC is concerned that the BBC claims benefits for ATUK publicly for activities not part of the programme when it is favourable for it to do so (for instance in the case of the relocation of its Birmingham premises), while dissociating other activities from ATUK when they could be seen as a bad news story, such as cuts to local radio.”

Sian Jones, NUJ broadcast organiser, said: “The Public Accounts Committee is rightly shining a light on impact, with an important focus on the experience of BBC audiences, many of which have suffered cuts to BBC local radio across England.

“The NUJ believes the BBC could do much better at being across the UK by restoring live and local output at all 39 local radio stations across England, including live and local news bulletins and genuinely local – rather than shared – programming. The loss of TV output in Oxford and Cambridge has also had a detrimental impact for local audiences in those areas.

“The BBC can be a force for good in covering, representing and lifting up communities across the UK. We recognise the progress made in shifting work outside of London, and the challenges and opportunities that brings, and agree with PAC that the benefits of those moves must be better understood for licence fee payers and audiences."

“The BBC faces significant financial challenges and that cannot be ignored. If the UK is to have the world-leading public service broadcaster, providing impartial news coverage across the UK and beyond, it is vital to ensure sustainable funding.”

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