I submitted a complaint to Ofcom regarding the BBCs proposals to cut services for Local Radio in England. This is the response I’ve received:
Dear Dr Watson,
Thank you for your complaint regarding the BBC’s changes to its local radio services.
We have considered the plans that you refer to in your complaint as recently set out by the BBC to transform its local services in England, including its local radio stations. We are discussing these with the BBC and will scrutinise its detailed plans for sharing programming on local radio and other plans it is developing to respond to the challenges of changing audience behaviours and the financial pressures it faces.
We have recently published proposals for a new Operating Licence for the BBC, under which the BBC will be required to publish more information about how it delivers high quality, distinctive content and services for audiences across the UK, including in relation to local radio. As part of our consultation, we have already committed to additional oversight of the extent of the sharing of programming on local radio. We will also consider whether Operating Licence requirements need to be strengthened to ensure the needs of UK audiences are met.
We recognise the need for the BBC to transform, however have also been clear that we expect the BBC to continue to deliver for all audiences. As the BBC’s Digital First plans develop and it focuses more on its online provision, it should not leave linear audiences behind. It will also need to continue to provide a broad range of important content, including local content. We will scrutinise the BBC’s plans as they develop, not just to ensure they comply with the requirements set out in the Operating Licence, but also how they are likely to impact audiences and on the BBC’s ability to deliver on its remit.
Please also note that when making an assessment of the BBC’s performance in delivering its mission and public purposes, we consider a range of factors including audience research and perceptions, data from the BBC, and contextual factors such as complaints and feedback from third parties – all of which help us to identify whether certain groups are being underserved.We publish our report on the BBC’s performance annually. Our most recent one, published in November, also looked at how the BBC serves local audiences across the UK.
Thank you for taking the time to contact us, I hope I have helped to clarify our process around this matter.
:: Sally Mathias
Content Policy Associate
Broadcasting and Online Content Group