Media Trust Hits Out at plans for BBC Local Radio Cuts

Caroline Diehl, Chief Executive of Media Trust, has spoken out about the BBC’s plans to replace local radio with Radio 5 Live broadcasts.

The Media Trust has urged the BBC to continue to invest in local radio after plans were revealed earlier today to cut the majority of local programming from the airwaves.

Chief Executive of Media Trust, Caroline Diehl says: From our work in communities across the UK we know that charities and communities are hugelyreliant on BBC local radio to raise visibility of their services, causes andcampaigns. Local and national charities rely on BBC local radio to give a voice to their users, to raise funds, recruit volunteers and highlight areas and issues where change is needed.

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 major 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.

Caroline Diehl adds: “With the loss of BBC local radio our communities would be irrevocably weakened.  Already Media Trust has seen growing concern among communities at the ongoing demise of truly localnewspapers and commercial local radio. The BBC’s investment in local radio keeps the commercial players on their toes, and maintains some level of competition.”

BBC Radio NewcastleThe Media Trust believe that Local radio is a key service for the millions of people who are not yet connected to the internet and provides a much-needed unifying media presence in localities, especially in the rural areas.

“BBC local journalists are often the first ‘whistle-blowers’ for local issues of national concern, able to be our nation’s ‘eyes and ears on the ground’, and a resource to national media. With UK government policy driving an increasing structural dependency on local charities and community groups to underpin our communities, it is vital that BBC local radio, one of the main resources for these groups, is kept in place, and indeed, strengthened.” Says Caroline Diehl.