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.