Rethink Radio York cuts, city leaders tell the BBC

24 Jul 2020 @ 7.06 am
| News

By going through with the cuts to Radio York, the BBC would “irreversibly damage regional and local journalism”, the council leader has said.

Cllr Keith Aspden, and City of York Council culture lead Darryl Smalley, have called on BBC bosses to think again.

YorkMix revealed earlier this month that the BBC is to cut 450 jobs in its English regional TV news and current affairs, local radio and online news.

That would see BBC Radio York losing up to four journalist posts and Look North and Online for Yorkshire cutting between 12-16 posts, “without any meaningful consultation with the audiences and communities these decisions will directly impact,” the councillors say.

It also means Radio York will have just three daytime programmes. A ‘simplified’ schedule brought in for the pandemic, featuring single instead of double presenters and a reduction in the number of shows, will become permanent.

It follows the shock revelation that Minster FM is to close, to be replaced by a Greatest Hits Radio network.

Community spirit

Photograph: yoursql719 on Pixabay

The councillors have written to director of BBC England Helen Thomas – who has worked at both Minster FM and Radio York – and Ken MacQuarrie, director of nations and regions BBC – to express their dismay at the cutbacks.

Cllr Aspden told them: “Local and regional media outlets play a vital role in supporting communities up and down the country.

“In York, BBC radio and regional news programmes are not only trusted and valued local institutions, but crucially give a voice to local communities at a time when local content or engagement within commercial radio and television work is under threat.

“This has been further highlighted during the coronavirus epidemic, when local news outlets have been a lifeline to many, as both a vital source of information as well as an invaluable source of community spirit and resilience.

“We are urging you to carefully examine the impact that these proposed plans will have on local communities and rethink these proposals, which as currently set out would irreversibly damage regional and local journalism as well as representation, diversity and accessibility of trusted news services.”

A BBC spokesperson said: “The BBC is proud of its long tradition of award-winning journalism in Yorkshire.

“New technologies and ways of working mean we can now operate more efficiently while still providing the quality service that viewers, listeners and readers have come to expect.

“The BBC needs to save an additional £125m this year because of Covid-19 on top of the £800m we already had to save.

“These proposals will ensure that Look North, Politics Yorkshire, BBC Radio York and a Yorkshire-based investigative journalism team continue to serve the region.”