BBC decision to cut local programming draws fire


A writer for The Independent in the United Kingdom sees no point in a local radio station that is used to repeat regional or national programming. Noting that most already operate on a shoestring budget, he believes the fact that the BBC is thinking about cutting back on local programming is totally misguided.

The BBC is looking for savings in the neighborhood of 20% of its total budget, and local off-peak radio programming is a prime target for savings.

Stephen Glover of The Independent says this is particularly unwelcome news in smaller communities that already face a lack of local news outlets due to the troubled economics of modern newspaper publishing. He said that once you get out of the metropolitan areas you find localities that have had some dailies become weeklies, if they haven’t gone out of business altogether.

He said these communities do not need more national news – there are plenty of sources for that – but they do need stations out there reporting on the events in their own communities.

According to Glover, the BBC will win a few pounds of savings, and local government officials and businesses will win a lack of scrutiny when they take actions that might prove unpopular among the public were they to be exposed. The losers will be local citizens who will lack this kind of information.

Glover concluded, “A dodgy businessman or incompetent councillor may escape the notice of a BBC local station required to cover several large towns and pump out national news. The Corporation should think again.”

RBR-TVBR observation: Satellite and internet-based audio services can offer the kind of variety that broadcast can’t – it’s that simple. However, there are too many of them to deliver a massed local audience, and they cannot deliver quality local programming period. The day broadcast radio gives up on local programming is the day it begins in earnest its march toward extinction.

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