Thursday 10 March 2011

NUJ fears over plans to axe BBC local radio: 'At least 700 jobs could go and stations may close'

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

The union says 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.

It claims: "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.”

Update: A BBC spokesman has told the Guardian: "No decisions have been made so it would be wrong to speculate. It is of course only right that BBC staff have an opportunity to input ideas about shaping the BBC's future.

"The [delivering quality first] sessions are designed to provoke discussion among staff about the way the BBC works and any decisions coming out of the process would be subject to approval by the BBC Trust."

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