Cuts to BBC local radio and TV services

The following is the text of a letter that I sent to the Culture Secretary to demand that the BBC is properly funded:

“I am writing this email on behalf of one of my constituents and more than likely many people all over the country regarding the cuts to BBC local radio and TV services.

I include the transcript of the letter itself here, as it very eloquently lays out my constituent’s concerns, as well as those of the Broadcasting, Entertainment, Communications and Theatre Union (BECTU):

‘I am writing to you as my MP regarding BBC England’s recent announcement of cuts to local radio services and the closure of TV operations in Oxford and Cambridge.  

Local radio and TV have long been one of the most valued and revered services provided by the BBC, with a network of 39 radio stations collectively covering the entire country, ranging from large cities to rural areas, keeping people informed about local issues. 

Such stations and TV services are distinctive in their output, made by local people for local listeners, and keep both individuals and communities connected, particularly the elderly and lonely for which local radio acts as an invaluable lifeline.   

Throughout the pandemic we saw the value of local radio and TV services in keeping people connected through long periods of isolation, and just last month prime ministerial interviews from BBC local radio stations in Nottingham, Leeds and Bristol held Liz Truss to account following days of economic turmoil and a worsening cost of living crisis.  

The plans to create multimedia newsrooms to merge TV, radio and online news will mean a reduction of 48 roles, as well as the closure of We Are England and Oxford and Cambridge TV operations. Talented and specialist workers, particularly in Oxford and Cambridge, now face financial uncertainty, restructuring of roles and potential job losses.   

The Government’s decision to freeze the licence fee and underfund the BBC has made such cuts and closures inevitable. Decisions made directly from Downing Street combined with the changing media landscape have made it impossible for the BBC to sustain its plethora of services, having to save £285 million in response to the Government’s two-year freeze of the licence fee.   

The proposed cuts strongly reinforce the need for a licence fee that keeps pace with inflation and enables long-term planning and stability. A licence fee that allows the BBC to invest in local talent in the nations and regions, keeps communities connected and protects its public service ethos to inform, entertain and educate is essential if the BBC is to remain a truly national broadcaster.’

I write to ask that steps are taken to ensure that the BBC is properly funded, instead of being run down, and that the very crucial, local flavour provided by local services, is not compromised, and that the ‘centralisation’ of the BBC is dropped.

I look forward to hearing from you.”