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Emergency Petition–Save BBC Local Radio Broadcast


Updated, 11th May 2023

Please find below some important information shared with us via our friends at the National Federation of the Blind of the UK (NFBUK), regarding proposed changes to BBC local radio in England. Please read on to find out more – and to take action:

The National Federation of the Blind of the UK (NFBUK) is extremely worried about the proposed changes to BBC local radio in England as reported in Appendix 1 below. The proposed changes will result in the afternoon and weekend shows becoming regional, with many presenters losing their shows and jobs, in essence ripping the heart and soul out of the local public broadcasting service.  It is critically important that we fight to keep these shows. This will be the start of the death of local radio and it is critical we stand up and support them, as they have on many occasions given us the opportunity to voice our concerns on issues affecting blind, visually impaired and disabled people in the local community. We understand these changes will be happening in June 2023 so we need to act fast. We have set up an emergency petition and we hope your organisation can support it please.

We have 75 supporting organisations / charities / groups so far and we hope your organisation can join it to please.

Local radio holds politicians, councillors and businesses to account and connects listeners with what is going on in the local community. The shows put listeners into the heart of the broadcast like no other radio show does at this local level across England. The radio shows keep many people company, including many blind, visually impaired and older people who rely on them as their source of news, entertainment and information throughout the day and at the weekends.  Moving from local to regional shows in the afternoon and at the weekend will change local radio for ever and there will be no way back for the much loved presenters, reporters and shows lost for ever. The NFBUK did ask for the BBCs Equality Impact Assessment and a Public Value Test (see Appendix 2) on the proposed changes to local radio through a Freedom of Information request but the BBC said it was exempt to providing this information.

We therefore ask if your organisation will support our emergency petition to the Director General of the BBC to:

  • Please do not make any changes to any of the local BBC radio shows and schedules on weekdays and weekends. This also includes all shows and schedules after 2.00pm on weekdays and over the weekend period in the 39 BBC local radio stations in England.
  • Ensure all online news content gets broadcasted live on all relevant local BBC Radio Stations throughout all of the day and at weekends.
  • Publish the Public Value Test / Public Interest Test for all proposed changes to local BBC radio.
  • Publish the Equality Impact Assessment on all the proposed changes on the BBC local radio listeners.

The wording may change slightly before we submit it but will let you know if that happens.

For you organisation to sign the petition please:

  • Reply to this email or to with a YES, with your name, position and organisation.
  • Text Yes with your name, position and organisation to 07903 158585 (Sarah Gayton’s mobile phone)
  • Phone Sarah Gayton 07903 155858 or 01827 714673 who will take your details.

We will are aiming to hand the petition in next Thursday on the 18th May 2023 into the BBC, to Number 10 and to Ofcom if we get permission to petition. We would therefore appreciate your swift support for this petition please.  If you would like to forward this email to any other organisations you may feel would like to support it please do.

Kindest regards

Andrew Hodgson
Sir John Wilson House
215 Kirkgate

Attached image NFBUK logo in capitals with and arrow pointing upwards out of the K and the words ’The Voice of Blind People’ is written below.

Sent by:
Sarah Gayton
Street Access Campaign Coordinator
Phone 07903 155858 Any day
Phone 01827 714673 Not on Tuesday 
National Federation of the Blind of the UK
Reg. Charity No. 236629 (England & Wales) SC 040134 (Scotland)
Sir John Wilson House, 215 Kirkgate, WAKEFIELD, West Yorkshire, WF1 1JG
Contact+ 44 (0)1924 291 313

Supporting Organisations So Far:

1 National Pensioners Convention
2 Access Committee for Leeds
3 Sandwell Visually Impaired (SVI)
4 Headway Tamworth and Lichfield Brain Injury Support Group
5 Visually Impaired Society of Richmond
6 Inclusion London
7 Women in Rural Enterprise WIRE
8 Wandsworth Blind Bowling Club
9 East Cheshire Eye Society
10 Vision Norfolk
11 My Vision Oxfordshire
12 Lincoln & Lindsey Blind Society
13 Age UK Bradford District
14 Age UK Gloucestershire
15 Vision Support, Chester
16 Age UK Staffordshire
17 Age UK Birmingham 18  Age UK Sandwell  19  BlindAid, London
20 Luton All Women’s Centre
21  Galloways Support Through Sight Loss
22 Redditch Assocation for the Blind
23 Age Concern North Norfolk
24 My Sight Team Yorkshire Coast Sight Support
25  Age Concern Liverpool & Sefton
26  Bedfordshire Branch NARPO National Association of Retired Police Officers
27 East Sussex Vision Support
28 Goalball UK
29   Connected Voice Newcastle upon Tyne
30  The Partially Sighted Society
31 Chelmsford Talking Newspaper
32 The Blaydon Shed
33 Action Disability Kensington and Chelsea (ADKC)
34 Warwickshire Bowls Association
35 Thomas Pocklington Trust
36  New Earswick Disabled Swimming Club
37    Visually Impaired in Camden
39 Weston Retired Bowls England
40 Esme’s Umbrella (the charity dedicated to people who develop Charles Bonnet Syndrome after sight loss)
41 Surrey Coalition of Disabled People
42 Sight Vision Support
43 Breathing Space
44 Action Hampshire
45 Calderdale Forum 50 Plus
46 Action on Disability London
48 Gosport Voluntary Action
49 Southampton Sight
50 Sight Support Derbyshire
51 The Partially Sighted Society
52 Chorley Sightseekers
53 Alström Syndrome UK and Breaking Down Barriers
54 Community Action Malvern & District
55 VONNE Voluntary Organisations’ Network North East
56    Nova Wakefield District Ltd
57    Harrogate & District Community Action
58    Devon in Sight
59    CEO. Blackburn and District Blind Society
60    WinVisible women with visible and invisible disabilities
61    The Plough Arts Centre. Great Torrington, Devon
62    Community Action Malvern & District
63    Bristol Older People’s Forum
64    Silver Voices
65 London to Morocco
66  Big Yes from Bowls Hampshire
67 BaNES Third Sector Group (3SG)
68 Northern Academy of Performing Arts, Hull
69 MertonVision
70 Voluntary Action Sheffield
71 Volunteer Cornwall
72 The Burton Street Foundation
73 Sheffield Mencap & Gateway
75 Earth Balance Shed, Bedlington

Appendix 1 BBC local radio faces significant cuts to programming

31 October By Daniel Rosney Entertainment reporter

BBC local radio stations will have a significant number of programmes cut under new plans, the corporation has announced.

All 39 networks in England will keep their current schedule from 6am to 2pm, but after that shows will be shared.

There will be 10 local programmes between 6-10pm on weekdays, across the day on Saturday, as well as on Sunday mornings.

Live sports programming will not be affected. There will be one “all-England” show from 10pm across the week, and on Sunday afternoons. These changes will result in the closure of about 48 staff posts, with the BBC explaining it wants to prioritise digital content.

The BBC is also creating 11 investigative reporting teams across the country, focusing on key local issues across TV, radio and online. It also said it would deliver “a wider range of local audio programming through BBC Sounds”.

Rhodri Talfan Davies, director of Nations, said: “These are ambitious and far-reaching proposals to grow the value we deliver to local audiences everywhere.  “The plans will help us connect with more people in more communities right across England – striking a better balance between our broadcast and online services – and ensuring we remain a cornerstone of local life for generations to come.”

The most recent listening figures published show a slight change in recent audience numbers listening to local radio in England.
Rajar, the industry body, says 5.8m listened for at least five minutes in September 2022, compared with 5.6m in 2019 and 6.7m in 2012.

“That’s more than Radio 1, more than 5 Live and a little bit less than Radio 2 so there’s clearly still a desire for it,” Paul Siegert, a spokesperson for the National Union of Journalists told the BBC. “The moment it stops becoming local it becomes less popular. It has to stay local, people in Cornwall don’t care what’s going on in Devon.”

Philippa Childs, head of the Broadcasting, Entertainment, Communications and Theatre Union (Bectu), added: “Just last month we saw how important public service broadcasting and local radio are to our democracy via prime ministerial interviews. “This disappointing move reinforces the need for a licence fee that keeps pace with inflation and enables long-term planning and stability.”

Earlier this year the BBC’s director general Tim Davie warned services would need to be cut to make savings. The licence fee was frozen for the next two years by the government in January. The £159 a year sum from households pays for BBC services including TV, radio, the BBC website, podcasts, iPlayer and apps. Wider BBC savings of £500m have previously been announced, with CBBC and BBC Four also scheduled to move online in the future. There are also plans to replace the BBC News Channel and BBC World with one rolling news network. Last month the broadcaster proposed ending radio broadcasts for 10 language services, although it said it will move services online. The BBC says it will protect local news bulletin services across all local stations and will boost its online news offer. It also announced the planned closure of distinct Oxford and Cambridge TV news programmes will go ahead.

Appendix 2 Mandate for local radio,  BBC Charter and requirement for Public Value Tests

(5) The BBC must prepare and publish a policy setting out how it will consider material changes to the UK Public Services, including whether or not a change is potentially material, and how it will consult with interested persons where appropriate. The policy must set out the assessment it will carry out and the procedures it will follow. Such assessments and procedures must be proportionate to the nature of the change.

(6) The BBC may only make a material change to the UK Public Services where- (a) the BBC has carried out a public interest test on the proposed change; (b) the BBC has determined that the public interest test is satisfied; and (c) Ofcom determine that the BBC may carry out the proposed change.
(7) For the purposes of this clause, a material change means-
(a) the carrying out of any activity as a new UK Public Service; and
(b) any change to a UK Public Service which may have a significant adverse
impact on fair and effective competition.
8. Public Interest Test
(1) The BBC must be satisfied that-
(a) the proposed change to the UK Public Services contributes to the fulfilment of
the Mission and the promotion of one or more of the Public Purposes;
(b) it has taken reasonable steps to ensure that the proposed change has no adverse impact on fair and effective competition which is not necessary for the effective fulfilment of the Mission and the promotion of the Public Purposes;
(c) the public value of the proposed change justifies any adverse impact on fair
and effective competition,
(‘the public interest test’).
(2) In carrying out the public interest test, the BBC must consider the scale and likelihood of any public value relative to the scale and likelihood of any adverse impact on fair and effective competition. It is recognised that the determination will require qualitative assessments to be made and that direct comparison of factors relating to public value and factors relating to risks to fair and effective competition may not be possible.
(3) Where the public interest test is satisfied and the BBC would like to implement the proposed material change, the BBC must publish the proposed change and send a copy to Ofcom
Update to the Charter

We hope the information above is of interest. Please do sign the petition if you can, and help us to spread the word amongst your networks!

Best wishes,

The GVA Team


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