MailOnline: MPs urge Ofcom to step in before BBC does 'irreparable' damage to its regional TV news service with plans to slash 450 jobs

MailOnline: MPs urge Ofcom to step in before BBC does 'irreparable' damage to its regional TV news service with plans to slash 450 jobs

Article by Katie Feehan for MailOnline - published 10 August 2020

MPs have called on the TV watchdog to look at BBC plans to cut its regional news services.

The broadcaster is planning a shake-up of regional TV news and local radio in England, axing 450 jobs.

The letter to Ofcom calls for a response from the regulator before any 'irreparable steps are taken'.

It complains that 'local and regional news would appear to be taking a disproportionate share of the cuts being made by the BBC management.'

It calls for a response from Ofcom 'before any irreparable step is taken by the Corporation.

'In particular we want to know whether you consider that the BBC is acting in accordance with its mission and purpose,' it states, regarding the changes to local and regional news and current affairs.

The letter was sent by Damian Collins, former chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee  and signed by other MPs in the South East.

The broadcaster has said that BBC England – which currently has more than 3,000 staff – must save £25 million by April 2022.

BBC changes will see one instead of two presenters fronting 6.30pm regional TV news bulletins.

Inside Out, the regional current affairs magazine show made in 11 different regions, will be axed and replaced with a new investigative journalism programme from six hubs.

A 'simplified schedule' introduced on local radio during the pandemic, with single instead of double presenters and a reduction in the number of shows, will become permanent.

A BBC spokesperson said: 'Given what the BBC has to save, difficult decisions are being made across the BBC.

'Local and regional programming is in our DNA but new technologies and ways of working mean we can also operate more efficiently while still providing the quality service that viewers, listeners and readers have come to expect from our services.'

The BBC first announced the major shake up last month with the job cut announcement taking place via video call to staff but poor Wifi meant the connection kept cutting out, meaning some staff could not hear whether or not they were being made redundant.

And in June it said it was axing more than 150 roles in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The broadcaster has also launched a programme of voluntary redundancy as it attempts to make £125 million in savings this year - on top of the previous £800 million savings target - due to the pandemic. 

Sir Lenny Henry and Stephen Fry were among the stars who signed a letter to the BBC urging the corporation not to cut regional current affairs programmes.

The National Union of Journalists said the cuts - which will affect presenters, journalists, technical and operation staff and will see a sixth of BBC England staff losing their jobs - 'could have a serious impact' on the BBC's 'ability to represent all parts of the country'. 

Copyright 2019 Damian Collins. All rights reserved

Promoted by Russell Tillson for and on behalf of Damian Collins, both of Folkestone & Hythe Conservative Association both at 4 West Cliff Gardens, Folkestone, Kent CT20 1SP

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