BBC plans could kill BBC local radio – Bristol Branch Chair speaks out

Protest by the NUJ and members of the public at the BBC, Whiteladies Road, Bristol, to defend the BBC against self-imposed cuts; 25 May 2010. (Photo © Simon Chapman)

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

Bristol Branch Chair Paul Breeden has spoken out against the cuts on BBC Radio Somerset.

It is reported there are plans to produce only breakfast and drive-time shows locally, with all other programming being delivered by Radio 5 Live. The fear is 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.
And the Guardian is running a poll on how many people listen to their local radio station.
Paul says: “Local BBC radio stations provide a service to local communities which commercial stations can’t match, largely because the BBC supports professional journalists in (relatively) well-resourced local newsrooms.
“If cuts see a reduction in BBC radio journalists, we can’t expect the private sector to fill the breach. Local radio is vital to communities, especially in times of crisis.  I’ve just returned from New Zealand, where I heard radio stations providing valiant coverage of the Christchurch earthquake, but mainly falling far short of BBC standards, plainly because of a lack of resources.”
He told Vernon Harwood at BBC Somerset: “Our General Secretary, Jeremy Dear, says that these proposals would rip the heart out of local programming and effectively sound the death knell for local radio, and I’m afraid I agree with him.
“I would respectfully suggest that if the BBC wants to make savings, it should perhaps look at some of the managerial figures on six-figure salaries. If cuts need to be made, perhaps all services could be trimmed, but not to a drastic extent.”
BBC Somerset’s The Morning Show for 15 March is on BBC iplayer. The  NUJ’s comments are about 24 minutes into the programme.

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  1. Iqbal Tamimi says:

    Obviously NUJ members are worrying about the loss of jobs, but axing jobs at local radios have more damaging results on a wider scale. Just think of the services local radios offer their communities. We have to remember what is going on right now after the Tsunami of Japan. Almost no one has a home to watch television and the displaced people are relying totally on the information coming from their little radios for instructions about the rescue missions and directions to find water or shelter or even a blanket. Imagine how difficult it would be to work as a driver during the night, a farmer in the middle of the field or a worker on night shifts without a local radio station feeding them with information about different issues including blocked roads.

  2. Christina Zaba says:

    Yes – that’s why it’s so very important to save this service, and why the NUJ’s General Secretary has said that unless the BBC moves to protect local services, we’re going to “actively resist” plans which threaten to inflict this devastating damage.
    The Shadow Culture Secretary, Ivan Lewis, says he’s going to be seeking an urgent meeting with the BBC to discuss the range of options under consideration – more here

  3. Iqbal Tamimi says:

    I have just received an email from the Turkish IHH Rescue Team in Japan. IHH is the only relief organization in Sendai. The Organization sent a rescue team to Japan last Friday, just hours after the earthquake and the tsunami that followed. Recep Güzel, a member of the IHH rescue team, warns that the Japanese city of Sendai (which was the most violently hit by last week’s massive earthquake) is now facing a nuclear threat. He says that the city feels like a ghost town due to the evacuation of citizens to other secure areas. Recep says, currently the radio calls for assistance asking for all basic necessities, especially long life milk powder and diapers.
    Guzel added that the team is trying to provide basic supplies to Japanese people facing hunger and cold, since it’s also snowing and raining in the region. Road transport is facing difficulties due to the fuel shortage as well and a lot of journalists have found themselves stuck in the region.

    In reference to the lack of aid organisations in Senda, Guzel said, “the UN and other international organisations can’t reach the region because they can’t provide protection for their workers from the risk of radiation.” Radiation has now reached 20 times the normal level in Tokyo.

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