BBC Local Radio Under Threat

BBC Radio Nottingham is the only local station left in town
So this week I decided to start a blog to post my thoughts on the radio industry, and what a week to do it in…

We’ve just been told by our boss that one of the many ideas being bandied about as part of Delivering Quality First (the BBC’s efficiency drive)  is to merge BBC Local Radio with 5 Live. This is just an idea at the moment, and would mean local stations only having opt outs at breakfast and drivetime with the rest coming from London. Clearly this would save millions of pounds – and cost hundreds of jobs.

For the first time I can ever remember, our manager has actively encouraged us to make this information public, and start shouting about it to as many people as we can. The strategy seems to be to stop it becoming anything more than an idea.

We need to be ready to with a firm defence of Local Radio.

Here are a few interesting facts

  • BBC Local and Regional radio pulls in a weekly audience of 9.83 million listeners a week, Five Live gets just over 7 million.
  • Year on year, the sector has added a million extra listeners (8,862 – Rajar Q4, 2009)
  • In parts of the country – including Nottingham, Leicester, Derby, Bristol, Norfolk, Suffolk, Somerset, Devon, Birmingham – the BBC is the only organisation providing truly local radio

Stuff you can do – right now

  • Write or email your local MP, reminding them of how much they rely on local radio and TV for their own profile
  • If you work for the BBC, make sure you engage with the Delivering Quality First process – making it clear to those at the top that this is clearly a bonkers idea
  • Prepare for one almighty fight to protect and save Local Radio.

4 thoughts on “BBC Local Radio Under Threat

  1. Well that didn’t take long… NUJ on the case already

    BBC proposals would spell death of local radio

    The NUJ has condemned proposals which could see BBC local radio services being axed as part of a programme of savage spending cuts.

    Staff are to be briefed tomorrow (Friday 18 March) about a series of proposals for the future of local radio – including plans to produce local breakfast and drive-time shows only with all other programming being delivered by Radio 5 Live. BBC staff fear the plans would mean the loss of at least 700 jobs and the possible closure of some stations.

    The NUJ has called on the BBC to “step back from the brink” and protect the important role of local radio.

    NUJ General Secretary Jeremy Dear said: “Local radio plays a crucial role in keeping local communities informed. These proposals would rip the heart out of local programming and effectively sound the death knell for local radio.

    “The BBC’s plans would be a blow to quality journalism at the BBC and fly in the face of public commitments to localism and transparency. Local radio programmes are produced by local people for local audiences yet these decisions are being taken far away from communities and behind closed doors. The BBC must step back from the brink and protect local radio services. If they do not we will actively resist plans which threaten to inflict such devastating damage to local radio services.”

  2. I remember when I first joined the Beeb back in the early 90s the cuts bit deep in certain areas then. But there is plenty of hope. They announced they were closing Coventry and Warwickshire Radio out of the blue (we found out from the Coventry Evening Telegraph the day before the official announcement). I was a budding union hack (having been secretary to the Post and Mail chapel in Brum) and along with one of the senior news producers Sue, we launched a campaign to save the station. The response was really impressive from the public once they realised what was happening and we ended up taking a couple of coaches over to Pebble Mill to drive the message home to regional management. It did not stop most of the job losses but it kept some sort of base open for journos in Coventry which I understand later went on to prosper. My point is – there is at this stage much to fight for and many people out there who once mobilised will extend their help to those who take up the cudgel!

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