MPs accuse BBC bosses of ‘throwing elderly under a bus’ with cuts to local radio

MPs accuse BBC bosses of ‘throwing elderly under a bus’ with cuts to local radio in favour of digital content

  • MPs yesterday said the BBC’s plans have left a swathe of shows facing the axe
  • Programmes will be shared between local radio stations after 2pm each day
  • Changes will allow the BBC to fund boosting local online services

BBC bosses have been accused of ‘throwing older people under a bus’ as a result of planned cuts to local radio services.

MPs yesterday hit out at the corporation’s plans which have left a swathe of shows facing the axe, with one politician saying the broadcaster was ‘ripping the heart out’ of these services.

A key part of the plans is for different regions to increasingly share content at certain times of the day.

All 39 local stations will retain their own dedicated programming between 6am and 2pm, but from then on programmes will be shared between stations.

MPs yesterday hit out at the corporation’s plans which have left a swathe of shows facing the axe, with one politician saying the broadcaster was ‘ripping the heart out’ of these services

MPs yesterday hit out at the corporation’s plans which have left a swathe of shows facing the axe, with one politician saying the broadcaster was ‘ripping the heart out’ of these services

The changes will allow the BBC to plough more money into boosting its local online services. Yesterday, the BBC’s director of nations Rhodri Talfan Davies and director of England Jason Horton were met with criticism when they appeared in front of the digital, culture, media and sport committee.

Jane Stevenson, Tory MP for Wolverhampton North East, raised fears about the impact moving money away from radio towards digital content would have on the elderly. She said older people were ‘more likely to be listeners to local radio services’.

All 39 local stations will retain their own dedicated programming between 6am and 2pm, but from then on programmes will be shared between stations

All 39 local stations will retain their own dedicated programming between 6am and 2pm, but from then on programmes will be shared between stations

She told BBC bosses: ‘So are you throwing older people under a bus here? Because online is disproportionately not going to benefit older people.’ Miss Stevenson added: ‘These are not people who’ve grown up online, they are not people who are comfortable online and they may not be able to access a lot of the services that you’re now investing a lot more money in.’

Simon Jupp, Tory MP for East Devon, said it felt like the BBC often hit local services when it needed to make cuts. He added: ‘You’re ripping the heart out of it essentially by doing these changes.’

Mr Talfan Davies said the focus of the cuts was to ‘strengthen our online news service’ and ‘focus our spend’ where it makes ‘the biggest difference to audiences’.

It comes as more than 40 public figures, including actor David Harewood, called on the BBC not to reduce local radio shows for black and Asian listeners.

In an open letter from the Black Equity Organisation to director-general Tim Davie and chairman Richard Sharp, they warned that people rely on these programmes as ‘vital sources of community news’.

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