Arab Today, arab today bbc trust opposes local radio cut
Last Updated : GMT 10:09:25
Arab Today, arab today
Arab Today, arab today

BBC Trust opposes local radio cut

Arab Today, arab today

Arab Today, arab today BBC Trust opposes local radio cut

London - Arabstoday

It provoked the ire of listeners, MPs and senior church leaders. Now the BBC's controversial proposed cuts to local radio stations across England have met opposition from the corporation's governing body, the BBC Trust. Trust chairman Lord Patten is expected to ask management to go back to the drawing board with its plans to cut £15m from the budget of the BBC's 40 local radio stations, which if implemented would lead to the loss of 280 jobs. This proposal prompted thousands of complaints, more than for any other part of BBC director general Mark Thompson's Delivering Quality First (DQF) initiative to save £700m a year. The BBC Trust, which met to discuss the cost-saving proposals last Thursday, is keen to reduce the level of the cuts and is said to be particularly concerned by the proposal for neighbouring BBC local stations to share afternoon programmes. Trustees are also understood to want to roll back proposed cuts to BBC1's regional current affairs programme, Inside Out, which faces losing 40% of its £5m annual budget, or 40 of its 100-strong staff, in the DQF proposals. MPs, many of them speaking in support of their local BBC station, described it as a travesty for listeners and said it would deal a crippling blow to the corporation's regional output. BBC staff also spoke out openly against the scale of the cuts. Station controllers said it would do irreparable damage to their output and claimed that local radio had ended up at the bottom of the pecking order. Lord Patten is due to speak at the Oxford Media Convention on Wednesday, where he is expected to address the issue of local radio cuts. The trust has previously indicated that it would "aim to provide an early indication of trust thinking in January" ahead of its final conclusions on the entire DQF cost-cutting package, to be published in the spring. Thompson hinted in November at a possible U-turn over the cuts, telling MPs: "We don't want to preside over the decline of local radio." The director general said the cuts facing local radio were not as harsh as elsewhere in the BBC, but admitted: "At the sharp end the numbers are daunting." Patten has described local radio as the glue that holds local communities together and was a more trusted way of getting information than anything else. Local radio controllers fear the job losses – about 10 posts will go from a typical BBC local station employing 40 people – will also impact on the quality of their most popular shows at breakfast and drivetime. Thompson launched the DQF initiative following October 2010's flat licence fee settlement that also resulted in the BBC taking on extra funding responsibilities including the World Service. It is expected to lead to the loss of 2,000 jobs across the corporation, including 800 posts from BBC News. Other cost-saving initiatives include more repeats on BBC2 and less money spent on sport and entertainment programmes. A spokeswoman for the BBC Trust said it would be inappropriate to comment on speculation. The trust held a dual public consultation over DQF and the future of local radio which came to an end in December. The BBC's local radio stations in England had an average weekly audience of 7.25 million listeners, according to the latest official Rajar figures for the third quarter of 2011. Its total audience was up from 6.96 million a year earlier but around a million listeners down from its weekly reach of 8.26 million a decade ago.  

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