Parliamentary Sports Groups come together to support local sports coverage
The Parliamentary Rugby League Group today (13th December) brought together other Parliamentary sports Groups to discuss the ongoing BBC consultations which threaten sports coverage on BBC local radio.
Calling for the meeting, Rugby League Group Chairman, Leeds North West MP Greg Mulholland said “It has become clear that the impact of the proposed cuts on local and community sports coverage is far more serious than people had realised. We have therefore decided to call a meeting of all the sports groups in Parliament to challenge the way the BBC has handled the consultations and the specific proposals.”
The BBC has released two consultations on local radio services; one from the BBC Trust and one from the BBC itself. The Group felt this was confusing and the presentation of detail was not clear.
St Helens South and Whiston MP Shaun Woodward said “the BBC is facing tough times like all public service providers. However, the lack of detail on the consequences to BBC local radio risks being disingenuous. The way they have presented their case does not make clear just how damaging the suggested cuts are and there is significant feeling within Parliament that the consequence for the BBC would be to stray far from its duty to deliver community-focussed local services.”
The latter consultation makes specific proposals that will have significant impact on sports coverage, particularly rugby league. Mulholland continued “if these cuts go ahead, they would have a serious impact cutting back sports output and for a sport like rugby league, which is regarded as one of the most community-focussed in the UK, it would have even great significance. It is for that reason that the Group has asked all the other sports groups to come together to challenge the proposals and ask the BBC Trust to think again.”
The BBC’s proposals include:
• The loss of local programmes on weekday afternoons, with programmes being shared with neighbouring stations;
• The loss of all local programming between 7pm and 10pm. This means the end of any sports magazine shows, in-depth discussion about sport and the opportunity to have opinions heard, engage with clubs, officials and others involved in the game;
• Significant loss of live commentary as there will be a massive reduction in the number of games covered and with the reduction in the number of commentators at games that are broadcast any local flavour disappears;
• The loss of all local programming between 1am until the start of the breakfast show. All stations would broadcast Radio 5 Live;
• The loss of a wide number of locally-split breakfast programmes; and
• Huge costs to any local station that wants to offer live coverage of more than one game matches of any sport as stations will be charged to use the medium wave.
The Parliamentary Group will be providing its own response to the consultations and anyone interested in sports coverage can do the same. Fans of Rugby League should visit http://www.therfl.co.uk/localradioreview to download draft answers to the online consultations. Details of both consultations can be found at http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbctrust/consult/local_radio.shtml.