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Local radio cuts and having the Last Word. It's Feedback

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Roger Bolton Roger Bolton 13:30, Friday, 21 October 2011

Radio Leicester team, 1967

Radio Leicester's team of station assistants, ready for the start of Radio Leicester on 8 November1967

It was rather lonely in the Feedback studio this week. I was surrounded by empty chairs.

We, and many listeners, wanted to talk about the proposed cuts to the BBC's English local radio stations, and had invited both the BBC's Director of News and the boss of local radio to come and discuss their proposals, which will see over four per cent taken out of the so called content spend, as well as significant job losses.

We would have liked to raise these issues with BBC executives - but they were unavailable. Indeed a strange silence seems to have descended on the senior management floor of the BBC control tower.

Perhaps they have gone on a retreat to contemplate the reaction to their proposals, put forward because of the latest licence fee settlement which makes cuts of 16 per cent unavoidable.

Perhaps we shouldn't complain too much about the empty chairs as we had Tim Davie, Director of Audio and Music, on last week and the BBC Trust Chairman Lord Patten on the week before. Still you want answers and we will continue to try and get them, so the invitations stand.

Not that Feedback listeners are united in their support for local radio.

It is striking, reading the Feedback correspondence, some of which we broadcast this week, that whereas in areas like Cumbria and Shropshire there is massive support for their local radio stations, in other areas there is more support for the national networks. To be continued.

Meanwhile let us contemplate more profound issues like death or at least Last Word, Radio 4's obituary programme.

What do you have to do to get on it, apart from pop your clogs?

That is one of the questions I put to the programme's editor, Phillip Sellars. Here is the interview.

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By the way the BBC Trust's consultation on the Delivering Quality First proposals continues until December 21st. Details of how you can contribute are on the Trust website.

Make sure you get your points across.

Please join us next week when we hope our chairs will be fully occupied.

Roger Bolton presents Feedback

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    It is utterly disgraceful if the BBC's Director of News and the boss of local radio simply chose not to be interviewed by Roger Bolton. This would demonstrate a complete contempt for licence-fee payers who have a right to have their questions answered. What is the point of Feedback if senior managers involved in controversial decisions cannot be held to account?

    I think that more content should be "shared" with local radio stations, and I suspect that the large amount of correspondence to Feedback in favour of local radio from two areas in particular may be evidence of a concerted campaign by some in the industry to defend the status quo. Are presenters in Cumbria and Shropshire encouraging listeners to take up their pens?

    If these two BBC executives are too cowardly to appear on Feedback then they are unlikely to have the inspiration and courage necessary to drive through important changes aimed at improving the quality of local radio.

  • Comment number 2.

    Newlach (message 1):

    “This would demonstrate a complete contempt for licence-fee payers who have a right to have their questions answered.”

    Yes, like why has the BBC banned on-line discussion of BBC radio output? The POV messageboard is saturated with discussions that have nothing, whatsoever, to do with ‘BBC policy’, yet these posts are left untouched. I cited Ms. Miranda Sawyer’s Observer radio review this week – and, surprise, surprise, my posting was removed. Anyone who mentions radio on this board has their posting removed. So why isn’t Ms. Karen Pirie investigating this ban when The Archers has 9 messageboards, yet radio listeners aren’t permitted even one board?

    I had the same reaction as the Feedback correspondent when I detected Ms. Caroline Thompson’s hesitation (PM interview with Mr Edward Mair) when asked about what local radio she listens to. Oooooooh, that hesitation was soooooo revealing. We were back in Ms. Jill Burridge territory when questioned – on Feedback – about the demise of the Woman’s Hour messageboard. My local radio station is Radio Merseyside – OK Billy Butler isn’t posh and didn’t attend an Oxbridge university……but he does possess radio magnetism which is severely lacking amongst R4 Oxbridge presenters. Mr. Evan Davis’s inability to grasp why The Stone Roses were so important within music lovers’ lives was a good example of this (October 22nd edition of Today programme).

    This week’s depressing incident on radio 4: Ms Nicola Horlick’s complete lack of knowledge – or understanding – of R&D and innovation in this country and Europe (1st edition of ‘Stephanomics’). Has Ms. Horlick ever actually worked in an industrial R&D establishment? The panel also failed to grasp how a huge proportion of UK intellectually property has been exported off to China – with UK engineers losing their jobs as a consequence. I would like to hear Mr. William Keegan on the panel.

    P.S. RIP Mr. Edmundo Ross: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nx3AKQ26FBI

    Let’s samba!

    PPS The Radio Merseyside controller always responds if one send him an email – often with an amusing reply. I never saw an R4 controller sending a warm or amusing posting response in the days of the R4 messagebaords. Can’t wait for the day when a northern R4 controller is appointed. The listening figures will rise quicker than Dame Jennifer Murray’s crossword puzzle completion times.

  • Comment number 3.

    As someone who, through going to boarding school and college has had the opportunity to listen to a number of BBC local stations, I am both dismayed and disheartened that once again, the least costly part of the BBC is being targeted for more savings. This is in spite of the fact that local radio has in the past been streamlined and if my facts are correct, actually only costs about 1.7p of licence payers money per day to run. Sorry if I have worded that wrongly but you know what I mean. One has to remember that local radio was set up in 1967 to bring the BBC 'closer' to its audience. Over the past 44 years the service has evolved into the fine tuned, well oiled units that we have now.

    I can remember the last time local radio was in the line of fire for mass savings. That was in 1975, when the expansions brought about by the miners strike and oil crisis of the winter of 73/74 were trimmed back. BBC Radio London lost all it's Saturday afternoon programmes and carried Radio 1 from 1400. However, whilst I am opposed to any reductions in services, one has to remember that not all cost cutting measures are bad. The people of the East Midlands will well remember their cult afternoon show that went out on Nottingham, Derny Leicest, and Lincoln when it came on air, presented by Dennis McCarthy. Just because it is not coming from down the road, does not mean it has no relavance to where you are listening from. As long as the proposed 'sharing' is done with thought for the geographical areas to be amalgimated, then for two or three hours in the afternoon during the week it should not cause any major deteriation of service. I do feel the idea of an England wide programme from 1900 till 2200 is a bit of a waste of effort given that many of the stations have extensive soccer and rugby coverage in the evening. I personally believ better savings could be achived by shutting local radio at 2230 on week nights and carry 5 Live till 0630, I am not sure what the thinking is behind sharing on a Sunday afternoon. It would be a good idea to know what audiences are actually listening after say 1400 on a Sunday. Here again, sport coverage is commons, with sunday games being played. But maybe again relaying 5 Live or 5 Live Extra might be an idea. I go back to the last saving exercise in 1975 when many locals joined Radio 2 at 1700.

    There is the old saying that the cloth has to be cut according to need and in this case local radio, whilst vitally importa

  • Comment number 4.

    We are supporting BBC Local Radio over at www.bbcradioforum.co.uk we welcome listeners to all BBC stations and are big supporters of Feedback, even though Roger got our name wrong on last weeks show.

    I do hope Feedback are keeping their eyes firmly on the local radio issue, the absence of BBC Management from last weeks show spoke volumes. Odd though that Helen Boaden had time to write a blog just-in-time for the parliamentary debate this week. Spin? The BBC Director of News? Surely not.

 

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