BBC staff across the North of England are bracing for rumoured cuts today as the corporation seeks to balance budgets in the face of a frozen licence fee and rising costs due to inflation and the cost-of-living crisis.
Staff at the BBC’s Northern hubs have confirmed to Prolific North that they have been issued all staff calls from today in anticipation of a major strategy announcement, while some have revealed that they are expecting an in-person visit from BBC director general Tim Davie, again with no firm indication of what the visit is for.
Meanwhile, The Guardian has reported that swingeing cuts to the BBC’s local radio services are on the cards, with sources telling the newspaper that local services will be decimated in favour of a regional strategy that could leave local stations with as few as two shows a day – breakfast and lunchtime shows – with the remainder of the day’s content split between several local stations on a regional, or even national, basis. Weekend programming, with the exception of sports output, would also be regionalised under the rumoured plans.
The BBC’s regional radio service has long been a source of pride for the broadcaster, most recently when its local stations were widely praised for their journalism when doomed PM Liz Truss took an ill-advised tour of local radio in a disastrous PR round that went swiftly awry.
The cuts, if confirmed, would follow on from cost-cutting decisions to end local TV news bulletins for Oxford and Cambridge, and sweeping cuts at the BBC World service where around 300 jobs were lost. They would also follow on from RAJAR’s recent revelations that the BBC has grown its local radio audience by two per cent in its most recent figures.
Director general Davie recently warned MPs of the “significant pressure” faced by the corporation due to the licence fee freeze until 2027. A BBC spokesman said of the latest rumours: ““We announced back in May that we would be introducing greater programme sharing between our 39 BBC local radio stations in England. This will enable us to increase investment in local digitised services. We will be sharing more information on these plans very shortly – and our own staff will of course hear about any proposed changes first.”