Farron calls on Director General to re-think Radio Cumbria cuts in face to face meeting
Cumbrian MP Tim Farron today met BBC Director General Mark Thompson and called on him to re-think his planned 20% cuts to BBC Radio Cumbria.
Tim said to Mark that: "To many people in our county, BBC Radio Cumbria is the BBC. It is a lifeline to us in a crisis like Foot and Mouth, the 2009 floods and the Cumbrian shootings. In those events BBC Radio Cumbria was a vital source of support and information, but that is the tip of the iceberg. As Director General, you have a real problem because it looks like the BBC's London-based elite is protecting the things they like to listen to whilst cutting things that they don't, such as local radio. The work that the hard working staff do at Radio Cumbria day-in day-out producing quality programming means that you must think again about your planned cuts."
Last week Tim invited BBC Trust Chairman, Lord Patten, to come to Cumbria to meet staff at Radio Cumbria affected by the proposed 20% cuts, meet the station's listeners and hold a 'question time' style event.
The BBC outlined their future plans for BBC Radio Cumbriain the document Delivering Quality First. They announced plans to save £670m a year after a nine-month review of all services. BBC RadioCumbria is having its budget cut by 20% compared with an average of 12% across all other local radio stations in England.
Under the proposals, BBC RadioCumbriawill lose 9.4 FTE (full time equivalent) posts. Because of the budget saving this represents, the National Union of Journalists believes that it is likely that 12 or 13 members of staff could lose their jobs - around a third of the station's workforce. The station would also lose at least 50 hours of local programming every week as it is forced to share more programming with other local radio stations.
After the meeting Tim said: "I believe the BBC has got it's priorities wrong - they have ring fenced the Radio 4 budget, increased the budget for Strictly Come Dancing and slashed Radio Cumbria's budget. Even though Strictly is a great show, and Radio 4 is world class, so is Radio Cumbria. I think this shows that the BBC has got its plans very badly wrong. I want them go back and re-think these proposals urgently."