Stockton North MP, Alex Cunningham, has blasted plans to scale back BBC regional radio provision as a “death blow to local journalism”, criticising the Conservative government of not just years of underfunding BBC services but also of a sustained attack against a great British institution.
Planned cuts to local provision which will see a reduction in bespoke made local content, more content sharing across the stations, and a loss of 48 jobs, were announced by the BBC on Tuesday 31 October, prompting criticism from organisations including the National Union of Journalists who described it as the “biggest threat facing local radio since its launch in 1967”. Over five million people listen to local radio on a regular basis.
From Alex Cunningham, MP
Alex, who started his career as a journalist and worked on Radio Tees (now TFM) and Radio Clyde for four years and broadcast about things as diverse as the strike by fire station staff to the death of Pope John Paul I said:
“As someone who has experienced local radio from both sides of the studio, I know how valuable radio stations like BBC Tees are to communities, and that those who work there are often a great source of local knowledge and expertise. We saw only recently how regional radio was more than capable of holding senior politicians like the former Prime Minister Liz Truss to account on the issue that mattered to its listeners. We risk losing much of this vital service as a result of these planned cuts.
“For years we have seen a sustained attack on the BBC as we know it from the Conservative government, both freezing its funding for more than 12 years whilst allowing and leading attacks on the institution’s reputation. We’re now seeing a loss of vital services, that millions of people rely on, as a result of this two-pronged attack.
“These planned cuts are a potential death blow to local journalism and the service stations like BBC Tees provides. I’d urge the Director General to look again at these proposals but also call on the Conservative Government to outline how they will support the institution to ensure that it is still possible to provide the high-quality local news demanded by local people.”