Oxford council signs motion opposing cut to local BBC TV bulletin

  • 16 Aug 2022

The city councillors say the BBC's plan to end TV bulletins from the city will undermine local democracy and older viewers’ ability to receive news on their local area.

The motion, sent to Tim Davie, director general, and Richard Sharp, chair of the BBC board, said:

“This council acknowledges the Conservative government has deliberately made the BBC’s funding position very challenging by freezing the licence fee but this plan will minimise coverage of Oxfordshire issues and lead to an unacceptable reduced regional news service on television at peak viewing times. 

“The plan to present all the regional news programming from Southampton by creating a single edition of South Today with no segment committed to Oxford news serves no local resident well. With a much larger region to cover, all BBC South Today viewers will get less local coverage and Oxfordshire on the edge of the region is likely to miss out on a regular basis.

"The move comes at a time when local journalism is under threat, with cash starved local newspapers and persistent BBC cuts already having hollowed out local radio and newspaper news coverage.”

The motion says that the cuts will disproportionately affect older people and those without access to digital services.

The councillors emphasised the BBC’s role as public service broadcaster, saying:

“The  value of regional television news services is about more than audience size – it is about an informed public able to hold decision makers to account. Local democracy will be worsened by this BBC plan.”

The motion follows a letter from council, police and fire chiefs in Cambridge opposing the cut to the BBC’s Cambridge Look East. The letter said: “We are extremely concerned that many local issues will no longer receive the coverage or scrutiny they deserve. With a growing population, diverse communities and major social economic challenges we deserve our own dedicated television region.”

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