Councils' plea to save BBC Somerset's medium wave service

The leaders of two councils are calling on the BBC not to switch off one of its local radio transmitters in Somerset.

At present BBC Somerset transmits on both 95.5 FM and 1566 AM but the BBC wants to switch off the AM service where it is duplicated on FM.

But councillors from Taunton Deane and West Somerset say up to 30,000 people are unable to receive the FM service.

A BBC spokeswoman said it was currently examining the impact of the withdrawal of its AM service in Somerset.

She added: "We have said that we'll end medium wave (AM) transmissions, except for stations where listeners depend on medium wave as an alternative to FM.

"Any decision will be subject to the approval of the BBC Trust who are currently consulting on BBC local radio proposals."

'Times of emergency'

The leader of Taunton Deane Borough Council, Councillor John Williams, said the BBC's plans would not work in Somerset.

He said some 30,000 people living in the lee of the Quantocks and Blackdown hills are shielded from the FM transmitter located on Penn Hill, near Wells.

"There's a huge swathe of our borough, including major settlements such as Wiveliscombe, Norton Fitzwarren, Cotford St Luke, Bishops Lydeard and Milverton, who will effectively be disenfranchised if the medium wave transmitter in Taunton is switched off."

Both Mr Williams and Councillor Tim Taylor, from West Somerset Council, said in times of emergency people tuned into BBC Somerset.

"It could be which schools are closed because of snow or which roads are impassable due to flooding.

"As councils, we are very aware of the need to make savings but this proposal by the BBC would have a huge impact on people who value and rely on their local radio station."

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites