Parliamentary Rugby League Group Disappointed with BBC Local Radio Decisions
The BBC Trust yesterday (16 May 2012) published its conclusions and agreements made with the BBC on local radio broadcasting. Although there is a reduction in the financial cut, many decisions remain largely unchanged despite the Parliamentary Group’s public campaign having caused the BBC Trust Chairman to instruct the BBC to review the initial proposals.
The Group initiated its campaign after meetings in Parliament with BBC broadcast executives and Richard Lewis, then RFL Chairman. It worked closely with the RFL and a webpage was prepared which made the implications clear and helped fans to respond.
With Super League players using social media to raise the issue, a record number of people responded and most came from supporters of rugby league. This led to the decision of the BBC Trust Chairman to instruct the BBC to look again.
“At that point, the Group and the RFL sought to help the BBC” said Group Chairman, Leeds North West MP Greg Mulholland. “We arranged meetings in Media City with the BBC Head of Sport and other BBC radio executives to discuss this issue and we and the RFL offered to support and work with them to see if there were alternative solutions that could be found. The RFL also sought to work with other sports bodies as this doesn’t just impact rugby league.
“It is very disappointing that this offer has obviously been ignored and I shall be again writing to the Chairman of the BBC Trust, Lord Patten, about their approach.”
The RFL is reflecting on the detail and the implications. These include:
Local radio budget savings to be reduced from £15m to £8m.
Sport and community content will be more protected to ensure range and variety.
Safeguarding some coverage of minority sports.
Most minority input, however, will be scheduled at weekends.
Joint programming from 7pm-10pm remains (opt out for live sports coverage).
Some sports output will be lost due to this, although there would be more sport phone-ins from 6pm-7pm.
More detailed work is needed on whether AM transmitters will be shut down.
Mulholland went on to say “our campaign has never been about blocking any changes. We understand the BBC faces tough financial decisions, but after offers of help and support from the Group, the RFL and others, to simply ignore what fans have said is hugely disappointing.”
The Group is awaiting the RFL’s conclusions on the impact of these decisions for rugby league fans before it will taking further action.