Wednesday 25 January 2012

NUJ welcomes reduction in planned BBC local radio cuts but still wants licence fee renegotiated

The NUJ has welcomed the BBC’s Trust move to reverse some of the cuts to local radio, but says its interim findings on Delivering Quality First, the director general’s plans to cut BBC funding by 20 per cent, do not go far enough and has called again for the licence fee to be renegotiated.

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said: “Local radio is for some sections of the population, particularly the elderly, a lifeline. I am pleased that the BBC Trust has made this small concession, but it has obviously not listened to the concerns of the many others who took part in the consultation.

"These cuts, which will result in the loss of 2,000 jobs, on top of the 7,000 jobs lost since 2004, will severely damage the quality of the service provided by the BBC. It will damage its ability to produce quality creative programming and investigative journalism. It will damage its function as a public service broadcaster.

"I am also amazed that the Trust is happy to agree to the 40 per cent cuts at the Asian Network, a launchpad for new Asian talent. Fifteen posts will go by 2013 and the news team will move out of Leicester to London. The Trust appears to have rubberstamped the BBC’s management plans, without listening to the concerns made in the consultation.

“The scandal is that the reason why the corporation is forced to make these cuts is because of the shocking deal, made behind closed doors, by Mark Thompson. He agreed to freeze the license fee until 2017, while agreeing to take on extra responsibilities, such as the World Service, which will cost an extra £340 million. NUJ research shows that licence fee payers are prepared to pay more to prevent a downgrading of the service. It is vital that the license fee settlement is renegotiated.”

The Trust’s interim report largely backs the DQF proposals, however it has asked the BBC management to scale back plans to make local radio stations share afternoon shows, to review plans to cut Radio 5 Live’s weekly current affairs and has asked for a rethink on the plans to merge the BBC’s local current affairs programme Inside Out, which faced cuts of 40 per cent, into super regions.

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