BBC director-general Mark Thompson has rejected claims that BBC Local Radio was ‘in any way singled out or victimised’by the recently announced cuts at the corporation.
As part of the “Delivering Quality First” scheme unveiled in October the BBC Local Radio budget was slashed by 14 per cent. But in a speech at this year’s Radio Festival in Salford, Thompson said it faces smaller cuts than other BBC departments such as news, which faces cost savings of 20 per cent.
But he claimed that this ‘doesn’t mean that BBC radio is somehow being let off the hook”, adding: ‘ Radio budgets are traditionally far lower and discretionary spend a fraction of the equivalent in TV.
‘As a result I believe that the targets, while achievable, are stretching and difficult.”
He said that the impact on jobs would be ‘significantly higher than that 14 per cent overall headline suggests”.
At the beginning of the DQF process the corporation considered ‘all sorts of possible futures for BBC Local Radio’including a merger with Radio 5Live.
But Thompson said the corporation ‘rejected all of these ideas”, adding: ‘BBC Local Radio’s strength is that it is local and that it provides a vital, lifeline service for audiences who in many cases consume no other form of radio.”
Instead the BBC opted for a ‘package of measures which sees a concentration of our resources on key day parts’including breakfast, mid-morning and drivetime, but with a ‘continued commitment to all forty English stations”.
‘The headline savings number for BBC English Regions is 14 per cent – somewhat below the average for the BBC as a whole, so it’s not true that local radio has been in any way singled out or victimised,’said Thompson.