Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Good news about local radio cuts

Good news in my hard copy of the Guardian today, which I can share with you via the magic of the internet.

Other listeners to Spencer Leigh - and local radio fans in general - will be pleased to know that
Lord Patten is poised to announce a financial reprieve for the BBC's 40 English local radio stations, which are facing £15m of cuts that would have prompted changes including the merger of neighbouring stations' off-peak programmes.

The chairman of the BBC Trust will address the Oxford Media Convention on Wednesday, and he is expected to ask Mark Thompson, the director general, to find money to mitigate cuts that would have led to the loss of 280 jobs.
You can read the full article here. [Update: BBC news page including audio clip here.]

But we're not out of the woods yet, as it remains to be seen how much money will still be cut, as the article continues:
BBC local radio insiders gave the news a cautious welcome. One BBC source said that any reversal of the planned cuts would be welcome but added that employees would want to see the detail. "If they only knock £1m or £2m off the savings target then it will only be scratching the surface. If they were talking about £5m coming back [leaving cuts of £10m] then you would start to see that making a real difference."
And will specialist music shows such as Spencer Leigh's On the Beat necessarily be among those saved, if cuts still have to be made somewhere?
The source added: "All eyes will be on what they want us to save. Is it the lunchtime show, is it the quality of the journalism, or is it a bit of both?"
But it's the first bit of good news about this situation, and an indication (I hope) that the protests of listeners to Radio Merseyside and other local stations have registered with the Beeb.

And looking at Spencer Leigh's website, here, I see that advance notice for On the Beat shows now goes up to February 25th. In fact, here are all the forthcoming editions currently listed:
Saturday 28 January 2012 (5.30-8pm) - My Darling Clementine, the country duo featuring Michael Weston King and Lou Dalgleish, Curtis Stigers, plus a guitar pull from Kevin Littlewood (writer, "On Morecombe Bay"), Ian Prowse (Amsterdam) and Ethan Allen.

Saturday 4 February 2012 - Tony Cartwright (Part 1), the Huyton boy who managed Tom Jones and Engelbert Humperdinck and associated with the Rat Pack and Elvis Presley

Saturday 11 February 2012 - Tony Cartwright (Part 2)

Saturday 18 February 2012 - Michael Hill who went to school with John Lennon

Saturday 25 February 2012 - Juke Box Jury

Link to most recent On the Beat here.

Update 26/1/12: 

A further article posted on the BBC website, here, seems to be saying that financial cuts will be minimal:

The Trust conclusions mean the BBC Executive must find an extra £10m a year to 2015 to replace the savings it would have made through these specific cuts. The Trust wants the money found through efficiency savings rather than output reductions.

But the Trust is not demanding complete abandonment of the plan for afternoon programme sharing between local radio stations in regions of England. Lord Patten said: 'We accept that in some cases that might still be the best option.'
Nevertheles, with specific regard to shows like Spencer Leigh's, the good news is that
The Trust also wants the BBC to try to retain more of local radio's specialist off-peak content and to minimise projected cuts in local radio newsrooms.
So I think we can be reasonably optimistic.

1 comment:

  1. Hi, if anyone wants to read the interview with Buffy Ford Stewart and guests that Spencer Leigh did on his programme recently, about John Stewart the songwriter, it is in Country Music People for Feb 2012. I declare an interest, as my photos are used throughout the article, from 1984 to date. Cheers, Brian O'Connell