Local Radio – Read All About It

Local Radio – Right Up Your Street
Rarely has BBC Local Radio ever enjoyed as much coverage as it did in today’s papers. Unfortunately this was in response to the proposals to merge the network of 40, distinct, award winning stations with 5 Live.


And it wasn’t even the usual suspects.

The Sun’s coverage contained an interesting snippet that we hadn’t heard before

News and sport specialist 5 Live would ditch its medium wave frequencies and move to the FM positions of local BBC stations.

Which would support the notion of Five Live wanting to stamp out Local Radio – the network taking precidence over its newly adopted opt-outs. Or rather it would if it were true.

I’m told that senior managers from Five Live are equally as furious as those in Local Radio over this proposal, and that it was Mark Thompson himself (the Director General) who briefed bosses about the idea.

So where did the idea come from?

For the benefit of those outside the Corporation, the BBC is currently running an effciency consultation with staff under the banner Delivering Quality First. Ostensibly it’s a chance for all employees to feed in ideas about how the BBC might achieve savings of up to 20% over the next few years. And what could be better than engaging the workforce in a process that will ultimately provide the Licence Fee payer with good value for money?

Well the problem is that it pits colleagues directly against each other. And wherever the notion of merging came from, it’s certainly got the ear of those in charge. My understanding is that the BBC was or is actively considering three possible options 

  • Completely closing down local radio
  • Sharing outpuit regionally at off peak times during the day
  • Merging the network with Five Live

Alarmingly, it seems that one or more of these options could be put to the BBC Trust in as little as a month. The Trust would have to go out to public consultation and consider the responses before making a final decision.

Interestingly, the BBC Trust was already due to review the Service License of Local Radio later this year. So an accelerated timetable of this nature might tie in with existing strategy quite nicely.

Of course, it could all just be one huge bluff to get people talking about worst case scenarios. Networking across regions is already being tried out in Yorkshire and the South East. This whole exercise could just be a way of softening the eventual blow of that.

What the papers say

The Daily Telegraph

The East Anglian Daily Times

The Guardian

It’s a dog eat dog tactic, where only the strongest survive. Unfortunately the maddest dogs might end up being the winners



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