BBC considering replacing Local Radio with Five Live

BBC Radio 5 LiveThe BBC is considering proposals to scale back its local radio output and replaces services with BBC Radio 5 Live.

BBC Radio 5 LiveThe BBC is considering proposals to scale back its local radio output and replaces services with BBC Radio 5 Live. The proposals are being considered by the corporation as it seeks to save money in light of last years licence fee freeze – effectively a licence fee cut because of rising inflation. Coupled with the fact the corporation now has taken on responsibility for the World Service and Monitoring the BBC is looking across the board for mass savings. One proposal raised is replacing the majority of the BBC’s local radio output with BBC Radio 5 Live instead; the BBC’s sports station.

Under the proposals the only local services to remain would be morning/breakfast shows and drive-time shows. The rest of the time the BBC’s local stations would broadcast feeds from 5 Live. The plans have been condemned by Unions who claim it will cost over 700 jobs and will be the death nail for local radio.

“The BBC’s plans would be a blow to quality journalism at the BBC and fly in the face of public commitments to localism and transparency. Local radio programmes are produced by local people for local audiences yet these decisions are being taken far away from communities and behind closed doors. The BBC must step back from the brink and protect local radio services. If they do not we will actively resist plans which threaten to inflict such devastating damage to local radio services. Local radio plays a crucial role in keeping local communities informed. These proposals would rip the heart out of local programming and effectively sound the death knell for local radio.” – Jeremy Dear, National Union of Journalists, quoted on Media Guardian

At the moment the proposals are in the early stages and are likely to change as they progress. However, it is further evidence of just how server the cutbacks at the BBC are likely to be. Plans to scrap BBC Two’s daytime schedules and replace them with the BBC News Channel output are also on the table. The plans to scrap BBC Two’s entire line-up would reportedly save £20m but have been widely criticised – and would be a drastic move.

If the BBC were to press ahead with its plans to cut back local radio services it could face a similar campaign of opposition to when it announced it was closing 6 Music. A mass campaign, given strength by social networking sites Facebook and Twitter, was launched and was success – the BBC changed its mind. A campaign to save the Asian Network though, despite attracting high profile names, was not successful.