29 May 2012
The Church of England has welcomed the news that cuts to BBC
local radio are to be halved compared to original proposals, saying
this is an endorsement of the importance of local communities.
The BBC Trust document published this month was its final report
into cost-saving plans (known as the "Delivering Quality First"
review) and confirmed that local radio savings would now be in the
region of £8m compared to the original proposal of £15m.
In its submission to the BBC review in December the CofE
had warned that local radio must not be ignored and challenged the
proposed cuts stressing the importance of local radio to the
community, both in times of crisis or seasonal emergencies, and on
a daily basis,.
The response, drawn up by the Rt Revd Graham James, Bishop of
Norwich and lead bishop on media issues, was based on input from
the Church of England's 44 dioceses. Almost half expressed with
particularly strong feelings about the cuts.
Speaking this week Bishop Graham said: "It is good to know that
the BBC Trust has paid attention to the many submissions, including
our own, about the importance of the BBC local radio network.
Local radio stations are both popular and significant
builders of cohesion in the communities they serve. The
churches and other faith communities often have a close working
relationship with them. While we recognised the BBC has to make
cuts to its budget, local radio was going to be disproportionately
affected. We are glad the cuts in this area will now be less
severe, though they will still be a challenge for some
The original CofE submission had concluded: "We ask the BBC
Trust to recognise local radio as one of the 'Crown Jewels' of the
BBC. We do not argue that there should be no cuts in budget at all
but we believe that the total protection from cuts given to BBC1,
Radio 4 and the Proms is disproportionate in relation to what is
proposed for BBC local radio."
This month's BBC Trust final report also said that reductions in
local news teams will be lower, coverage of local sport "more
protected" and a plan for local radio stations to share programmes
in the afternoon will now be limited to a "very small number" of
Read the Church of England's original submission
BBC Delivering Quality First conclusions http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbctrust/our_work/strategy/