Ofcom asks BBC to justify cuts in news and current affairs

Simon Austin's picture
by Simon Austin

Broadcasting watchdog Ofcom has confirmed it will require the BBC to prove it will still be able to carry out its legal remit as a public service broadcaster despite proposed cuts in news and current affairs.

BBC England is seeking to save £25m by the end of March 2022 and current affairs programme Inside Out is to be replaced by a new series featuring long-form investigative journalism.

In addition, BBC News is to cut 520 jobs in the interests of cost savings and because of the impact of coronavirus.

Damian Collins and 22 other MPs from across the South East have written to Ofcom about the proposed cuts. Its chief executive, Dame Melanie Dawes, has responded to say she is monitoring the situation.

She added that should be “ requiring the BBC to set out... how the proposed cuts to regional news and current affairs are consistent with delivery of Public Purpose 1 of providing impartial news and information to help people understand and engage with the world around them, and Public Purpose 4: to reflect,  represent and serve the diverse communities of all of the United Kingdom’s nations and regions”.

The letter said that the watchdog’s in-depth review of the BBC’s news and current affairs, published last year, found that audiences wanted to see “more news about their communities, reported by people with a deeper understanding of the area, this was a particular issue for audiences from minority ethnic backgrounds.

“There was also a consistent message from viewers outside London, who thought the BBC could improve how it reflected and reported on their lives”.

The NUJ’s cross-party Parliamentary Group also received a reply from Ofcom after voicing concerns about the cuts to regional news and current affairs.

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