As reported in yesterday’s Guardian (23 January 2012) “BBC Trust Opposes Local Radio Cuts” BBC Trust Chairman Lord Patten is considering instructing the BBC to reconsider its proposals to restructure BBC Local Radio services, which if implemented, would result in swinging cuts to sports coverage on local radio.
The Parliamentary Rugby League Group has been the most vocal campaigner amongst sports fans and has worked to draw attention to the implications that would result in heavy losses to sports coverage. The Group also voiced its displeasure about the way in which the BBC conducted the consultations.
After reading the Guardian’s story, Group Chairman Leeds North West MP Greg Mulholland said “We are absolutely delighted that the BBC might reconsider its position on local radio coverage. If the proposals are put in place, fans of all sports – particularly rugby league and cricket – would be hit significantly. We have been campaigning hard on this and it is gratifying that the BBC appears to be listening.”
The Group wrote directly to Lord Patten and Mark Thompson, Director General of the BBC, making clear their displeasure with the way in which the BBC handled the consultations. Lord Patten has today replied to that letter saying:
“We’re still analysing the responses from the public consultations, however, it’s clear the proposals regarding local radio, including issues around sports coverage, caused concern among respondents. I can assure you that, when considering the proposals, we will of course take this into account, alongside important factors such as where the BBC is providing services that the market doesn’t provide, the role local radio plays in local community cohesion and the fact that the BBC is often more trusted as a source of information than other media outlets.”
As the Group reported (24 Jan 2012), the BBC received thousands of responses to the consultation, with rugby league supporters providing the lion’s share with over 1,000 fans writing in. The Guardian’s story confirmed this was more than any other as part of the Delivering Quality First initiative.
In his letter to the Group, Lord Patten went on to say that the Trust aims to provide an early indication of their position on the Delivering Quality First consultation in January, ahead of final conclusions in the spring.
Mulholland concluded “whilst this is a positive step, it is imperative all those involved in sport take an active interest in this issue and encourage the BBC to realise how strongly people feel about local radio services and the role it plays in communities.”