Major cuts in jobs and local shows planned for Local BBC Radio

BBC bosses have announced a major plan to share programmes and cut jobs on Local BBC Radio stations in England.

In an all-staff meeting on Monday afternoon, Acting Director of BBC England Jason Horton said he wants to “grow (our) local impact in all parts of the country” and that these will be the biggest proposed changed for local services in a generation.

Rhodri Talfan Davies, Director of Nations at the BBC shared the proposals to drop local shows on weekday afternoons and late night and the majority of the weekends.

Local shows will only survive on weekday mornings and lunchtimes (6am till 2pm) whilst the rest of the output, apart from evening and weekend sport, will be shared either regionally or nationally.

There will be six regions going forward, under new Audio Editors, covering North West / North East, Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, Midlands, London and East, South, and South West.

A possible 139 posts in local radio will be at risk as a result of the changes and a voluntary redundancy drive is being launched effective immediately.

Here’s how the programme sharing will look:

From 6am till 2pm, 39 local shows will continue across the 39 Local BBC Radio stations

From 2pm till 6pm, 18 regional shows will be shared across the 39 stations. The 18 shows will air in:

  1. Manchester
  2. Merseyside
  3. Lancashire and Cumbria
  4. Newcastle and Tees
  5. Leeds, Sheffield and York
  6. Humberside and Lincolnshire
  7. WM
  8. Coventry and Warwickshire, Shropshire and Hereford and Worcestershire
  9. Stoke, Derby and Nottingham
  10. Leicester and Northampton
  11. Essex
  12. Cambridge, 3CR, Suffolk and Norfolk
  13. London
  14. Solent, Berkshire and Oxford
  15. Kent, Sussex and Surrey
  16. Devon and Cornwall
  17. Bristol, Gloucester, Wiltshire and Somerset
  18. Guernsey and Jersey

From 6pm weekdays and weekend breakfast, 10 shows will be broadcast where local sport is not broadcast. The 10 shows are:

  1. Manchester, Merseyside, Lancashire,
  2. Newcastle, Tees and Cumbria
  3. Leeds, Sheffield, York and Humberside
  4. WM, CWR, Shropshire, H&W and Stoke
  5. Derby, Nottingham, Leicester and Lincolnshire
  6. Essex, Cambridge, Suffolk, Norfolk, 3CR and Northants
  7. Solent, Berkshire and Oxford
  8. London, Lent, Sussex and Surrey
  9. Bristol, Gloucester, Wiltshire and Somerset
  10. Devon and Cornwall

From 10am till 2pm Saturday and Sunday, 12 shows will be shared across the network. They are in:

  1. Manchester
  2. Merseyside and Lancashire
  3. Cumbria, Newcastle and Tees
  4. Leeds, Sheffield, York and Humberside
  5. WM, CWR, Shropshire, H&W and Stoke
  6. Derby, Nottingham, Leicester and Lincolnshire
  7. London
  8. Essex, Cambridge, Suffolk, Norfolk, Northants and 3CR
  9. Solent, Berkshire and Oxford
  10. Kent, Sussex and Surrey
  11. Devon and Cornwall
  12. Bristol, Gloucester, Wiltshire and Somerset

From 10pm weekdays and from 2pm every Sunday all 39 local radio stations will share one nationwide feed, with presenters yet to be decided/announced.

Overnight was not mentioned on the call, with RadioToday assuming the network will continue to take the output from BBC Radio 5 Live from midnight.

Local news will continue to be broadcast on the hour in each local area.

All Local BBC Radio stations have spent the last two years promoting their local Make A Difference campaign – highlighting how locally run radio stations can make a big difference to local communities.

On the first year anniversary of the campaign in March 2021, Chris Burns, Head of Audio and Digital for BBC England said: “The power of radio is huge when it comes to connecting local communities in their hour of need.

“The impact of Covid-19 has been reflected by ‘Make a Difference’ across all our local stations and has highlighted acts of kindness and enabled us to share some amazing stories.”

Online news services will be boosted in every local base to deliver an up-to-date, trusted offer across the week. Local stories will also be easier to find under changes planned for the BBC’s online services. The BBC will also launch new dedicated local online services for Bradford, Wolverhampton, Sunderland and Peterborough.

Overall, BBC local staffing in England is expected to reduce by around 48 posts. There will be around 131 additional roles across local news services, with around 139 fewer roles in audio teams as greater programme sharing is introduced. This includes the 40 posts closing due to documentary series We are England coming to an end, which was announced in May.

Rhodri Talfan Davies, Director of Nations, says: “These are ambitious and far-reaching proposals to grow the value we deliver to local audiences everywhere. The plans will help us connect with more people in more communities right across England, striking a better balance between our broadcast and online services and ensuring we remain a cornerstone of local life for generations to come.”

All changes will be done in stages and completed by the end of 2023.