As a cost cutting measure, the British Broadcasting Corporation has been talking about cutting much of the local programming available on its FM stations, using regional and national shows instead. That has local officials worried, since they rely on local radio to get critical information to the public in times of crisis.
According to a BBC report, the Local Government Association is worried about the loss of this critical tool when a civil emergency is in progress, saying the lack of a reliable media outlet during such a time puts the public’s safety at risk.
The BBC report quoted LGA official Chris White, who said: “Local radio plays a key role in how councils manage an emergency and the BBC regularly sits on resilience planning panels along with police and fire authorities. Time and time again these arrangements have proven invaluable to local communities, from updates about school closures, heavy snowfall, road accidents and flooding, to bulletins about more unforeseen emergencies such as train crashes or dangerous criminals on the loose. People rely on councils for the latest information in many circumstances, and in turn we rely on local radio.”
White added that promise by BBC that local emergency coverage would not be compromised even with greater reliance on non-local programming seem hollow.
According to a Guardian report, BBC is also taking heat for failing to keep the public fully informed about its proposed changes. The report notes that “presenters” are being prevented from bringing up the topic on the air, and further notes that the withdrawal of local programming is the most controversial issue on the table.
RBR-TVBR observation: It takes boots on the ground to cover an emergency, and there is no syndicated network, satellite service or internet service that is even close to measuring up to broadcast. Not only is local still the key to broadcast success, broadcasting strong local content in the public interest is the key to earning a firm defense of the broadcast license.