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BBC Local Radio Petition

The NPC went to Downing Street and BBC headquarters yesterday supporting a petition hand-in by the National Federation of the Blind UK (NFBUK) and signed by the NPC, opposing proposed cuts to BBC local radio services.

We were also joined by Diana Johnson MP for Hull North, Claudia Webbe MP for Leicester East, Robin Walker MP for Worcester and Simon Fell MP for Barrow and Furness, who oppose the cuts.

The NPC is extremely worried about the reported changes to BBC local radio in England, which will result in afternoon and weekend shows becoming regional, with many presenters losing their shows and jobs, in essence ripping the heart and soul out of the local public broadcasting service. We understand the changes will be happening in June 2023.

"Save our local radios"

Local radio holds politicians, councillors and businesses to account and connects listeners with what is going on in the local community. The shows put listeners into the heart of the broadcast like no other radio service does.

Local radio shows also keep many people company, including older and disabled people who rely on them as their main source of news, entertainment and information throughout the day and at the weekends. The cuts will disproportionately affect older and disabled people who are a key demographic of local radio.

Moving from local to regional shows in the afternoon and at the weekend will change local radio for ever and there will be no way back for the much loved presenters, reporters and shows lost for ever.

The BBC states that the move will allow stronger local online services, but moving content online wont help many older, disabled and younger people who are already digitally excluded. Recent reports show that 1 million broadband connections have been cancelled due to the cost of living crisis, so making these cuts are even more counter intuitive.

Jan Short, NPC General Secretary said "Local radio stations are extremely important to the listeners in their area. During COVID they were the backbone of support to their communities by making sure people were signposted to the appropriate place to help them. The rationale for imposing national programmes onto local radio stations does not make sense. It is a cost cutting exercise and nothing to do with providing a comprehensive service to local people. At the very least local radio stations should have a choice about what programmes their listeners want to engage with."

The petition asks the Director General of the BBC to:

  • not make any changes to any of the local BBC radio shows and schedules on weekdays and weekends. This also includes all shows and schedules after 2.00pm on weekdays and over the weekend period in the 39 BBC local radio stations in England.

  • ensure all online news content gets broadcasted live on all relevant local BBC Radio Stations throughout all of the day and at weekends.

  • publish the Public Value Test / Public Interest Test for all proposed changes to local BBC radio.

  • publish the Equality Impact Assessment on all the proposed changes on the BBC local radio listeners.

The BBC's Equality Impact Assessment and a Public Value Test on the proposed changes to local radio were requested through a Freedom of Information request, but the BBC said it was exempt to providing this information.

You can find images from the petition hand-ins below.


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