Quick enquiry
  • Chelsea Show 2017

BBC Trust rejects some cuts that could save local sport coverage

The BBC will have to find a further £10m of savings after the BBC Trust reversed planned cuts to local radio and current affairs, following an outcry from licence fee payers, politicians and religious leaders.

BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten has said that he has asked BBC director general Mark Thompson to row back on around half of the planned £15m cuts to BBC local radio in England.

Thompson has also been asked to rethink some areas of the BBC current affairs proposals, after the Trust judged that they could "dis­pro­por­ti­ona­tely affect the BBC's journalistic offer". It is thought that this will include plans to scale back BBC One's Inside Out strand.

Overall Lord Patten said that the Trust's changes to the Delivering Quality First cost-cutting scheme should "cost the BBC no more than £10m" a year.

In its interim conclusion, the Trust said: "Our analysis of the proposals has convinced us... that some of the proposed changes - to local radio and some current affairs output - are likely to have too much of a detrimental impact on the BBC's journalistic aspirations and reputation."

Talking about local radio, it added: "We... think the scale and impact of the cuts, although lower in financial terms than for many other parts of the BBC, is dis­pro­por­ti­ona­te to the value of these services to their audience and have asked the [BBC] executive to consider again the shape of their proposals, set against a clearer overall strategy for local radio as a whole."

The English local radio proposals were among the most controversial aspects of Thompson's Delivering Quality First budget cuts initiative.

Last October, the Trust launched a public consultation on the DQF proposals, which aim to save around £670m a year by 2016/17 under the BBC's new licence fee agreement.

The local radio cuts, slashing around £15m a year from station budgets and putting around 280 jobs at risk, are understood to have attracted thousands of complaints from licence fee payers, politicians and senior church leaders.

With many local radio stations seeing large audiences for local sport the threat to that coverage which is realtively more expensive because of rights fees was obvious. Whilst stations can dip into a central pot for Premier League coverage lower league games have to be paid for out of restricted local budgets.

For example the North West stations in Manchester, Merseyside, Lancashire and Cumbria that have proportionately high numbers of teams in each broadcast area have confirmed the proposals would mean losing around a quarter of their 40-strong staff. As an example Radio Lancashire has seen the sides it covers increase in the last few years as Morcambe and Accrington have joined the Football League - and that could increase again if Fleetwood get promoted this season. Covering so many sides would have become more difficult if the cuts had reduced the staff by 25%.

The BBC is trying to work out how to save £670 a year until 2016-17 - about 19% of the licence fee - after agreeing a licence fee freeze with the government.

Web design by Brick technology Ltd.