Monday 14 November 2011

'Axing local radio will cut lifeline for older people'

The NUJ has condemned the planned cuts to BBC local radio and highlighted the impact they would have on older people who rely on their local stations for news and information.

It says more than 7 million people listen to local radio and research by MORI for Ofcom found older people are more likely to listen to radio at least five days a week, with almost nine in ten (87%) of those aged over 55 doing so.

The union adds that BBC local radio is listened to more often by older listeners (23% of over 55s listen daily), compared to younger listeners.

According to the NUJ, all of the BBC's local radio stations face budget cuts including job losses and reductions in programming. Some stations face more than 20 per cent cuts and BBC London could lose a quarter of its budget.

Almost a half (48.7% ) of the listeners of Radio Lincolnshire are aged over 65, as are more than a third (35.2% ) of Radio Newcastle and more than four out of 10 (44.8% ) of Radio York and Radio Essex (43.3%).

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary said: “For many older people, BBC local radio is a lifeline. It provides people with a sense of connection with their community. The BBC website says ‘Audiences are at the heart of everything we do’ so why on earth are BBC management planning to axe the services that are relied upon by isolated and vulnerable people?”

  • The cuts are being made as part of the BBC’s Delivering Quality First proposals which include the loss of 2,000 jobs and plans to save a total of £700 million a year. All the BBC unions (NUJ, Bectu and Unite) are balloting for industrial action.

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