Rethink local radio cuts


MARK Menzies has backed calls for a rethink over BBC cuts to local radio.

Mr Menzies, vice chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group for the BBC, met with the corporation’s Director General, Mark Thompson, earlier this week.

During the meeting he raised concerns about the impact of the cuts on BBC Radio Lancashire which, he said, was a vital part of the county’s community and a shining example of excellent local news reporting.

“The work Radio Lancashire does in all their broadcasts in promoting positive things happening in the community, from charities to community events, is really tremendous,” the MP said.

“I’ve also been hugely impressed with their news team. They are always acutely aware of the big political issues and, while I’m never given an easy ride, I find their coverage to be fair and balanced.

“I’m acutely aware, of course, that in light of the financial climate and the Government’s measures to try to bring the deficit under control, cuts are needed to all public sector services.

“However, I would hope in this case they could be structured differently to protect our vital, local public service broadcasters.”

The BBC is looking to make savings of around £670m over the next five years as part of the corporation’s restructuring.

That is set to equate to cuts of around 20 per cent to local radio stations.

But, Mr Menzies said, the changes could be structured differently, adding there was widespread support from MP’s for BBC local radio.

He suggested savings could be made by central BBC radio stations including Radio 4, which is set to be protected as part of the review.

He said: “Radio 4, of course, has some of the highest quality output in the world and is cherished by many people throughout the country. It is quite rightly a national institution.

“However, I would think some savings could be made there, and at Radio 1, 2 and 3 who are also facing much lower levels of savings than local radio.

“I will continue to follow this situation very closely and will be campaigning in support of local journalists and staff at Radio Lancashire.”

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