BBC cuts may harm local radio across the pond


Cuts in radio staffers are not just being made here in the states: A debate is stirring over proposed cuts at BBC local radio stations. Budget cuts to BBC local radio stations will harm program quality, staff warned the director general, reports BBC News.

Radio Merseyside on-air talent Roger Phillips challenged BBC director general Mark Thompson at the Radio Festival in Salford. He said reducing the BBC budget by 20% over five years would mean the station losing 15 of its 46 staff, with the effect that “we can’t provide quality at all”. Thompson said local radio had not been singled out unfairly and he would look for ways of making savings that “minimize the impact on quality”.

Radio Academy CEO John Myers has been commissioned by the BBC to produce a report on how the corporation’s local radio stations can best adapt to budget cuts. Said a spokeswoman for BBC English Regions: “We have asked John Myers to advise us on how we can maximize productivity and deliver efficiency savings across local radio.”

Ashley Tabor, founder of the UK’s biggest commercial radio company, Global Radio, and other radio groups there claimed the BBC is dragging its feet on digital radio and questioned the need for switchover, reports the Guardian. At the Radio Festival, Tabor said digital audio broadcasting (DAB) coverage fell well short of that provided by FM, which accounted for the lion’s share of listening and commercial radio profits. Thompson confirmed that the BBC will fund the rollout of its national DAB signals  to 97% of the population but Tabor said the issue of local and regional DAB coverage was unresolved.

RBR-TVBR observation: Losing 15 radio jobs in the UK is a drop in the bucket, compared to the bloodshed here in the U.S. But it’s worthy to note that some over the pond are citing the move to digital in the UK as money spent that shouldn’t have been. We wonder if the budget to upgrade BBC to digital in the UK is being implemented at the expense of jobs.