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BBC local radio cuts ‘a crippling blow’

Thursday 01 Dec 2011
The BBC faces further calls from Members of Parliament to reverse its controversial proposed cuts to local radio, which they said would deal the stations a “crippling blow”, The Guardian reports.

Austin Mitchell

Austin Mitchell, a former TV presenter and Labour MP, said BBC Director General Mark Thompson’s £670 million (US$1.05 billion) package of cuts, which would affect local radio, would be “deeply damaging” to the corporation’s output.

Around £15 million (US$23.5 million) will be cut from the budget of the 40 local radio stations in England, with the loss of 280 jobs.

Mr Mitchell called a debate about the cuts in the House of Commons today.

“The cuts in local radio go too far and are too damaging. The BBC must consider the kind of objections coming from us and the rest of our society,” he said

Mr Mitchell said the government should be ready with a “supplementary licence fee” if the corporation’s output deteriorated.

MP Don Foster said the impact of the cuts on local radio station budgets would be “very significant” given their high level of fixed costs.

“I simply do not understand why something that is so important to so many of our constituents is under attack in this way,” said Mr Foster.

“Something like 20 percent of people (who listen to BBC local radio) only listen to local radio. It is a lifeline for older people and the disabled and so on.”
He said he hoped the BBC would rethink the decision on local radio and regional TV.