Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Rugby League Group to challenge cuts to BBC Local Radio

The Parliamentary Rugby League Group are to challenge the BBC’s proposed cuts to local sports coverage.

At a recent meeting in Westminster, the group heard from RFL Chairman Richard Lewis, veteran broadcaster Ray French, Head of BBC Sport for English Regions Charles Runcie and BBC London rugby league producer and commentator Ian Ramsdale.

This meeting brought home just how significant the proposed changes to BBC local radio are.  There have been debates in Parliament on the cuts to local radio services, but for rugby league – which is recognised as one of the most community-focused sports in the UK – the consequences could be devastating.

If all the proposals made in the consultation are enacted, it will result in:

• 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 options 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 band.

As Secretary of the Group, we are challenging the way the BBC has gone about consulting with the public on such an important issue as well as the proposals they are suggesting. We have written to Mark Thompson from the BBC and Chris Patten from the BBC Trust and have contacted other sports-related Parliamentary Groups asking to join us to raise these issues directly.

For more information, visit the Group’s website.  

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