Local Broadcasting: Radio

Department for Culture, Media and Sport written question – answered at on 14 September 2023.

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Photo of Stephanie Peacock Stephanie Peacock Shadow Minister (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, what recent discussions she has had with the BBC board on proposed changes to local radio.

Photo of Stephanie Peacock Stephanie Peacock Shadow Minister (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, whether she has had recent discussions with the BBC board on the potential use of (a) an Equalities Impact Assessment and (b) a Public Value Test on proposed changes to local radio.

Photo of John Whittingdale John Whittingdale The Minister of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport, Minister of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)

The government remains disappointed that the BBC is planning to reduce parts of its local output. Ministers have met with the BBC on several occasions since the announcement where they have expressed the concerns shared across the House about the BBC’s plans. The Secretary of State most recently raised her concerns with the BBC earlier this month.

While it is up to the BBC to decide how it delivers its services, the government has been clear with the Chair of the BBC Board and the Director General that the BBC must make sure it continues to provide distinctive and genuinely local radio services, with content that reflects and represents people and communities from all corners of the UK. These services are a key part of the BBC’s public service remit and an example of how the BBC can use its licence fee funding to provide content that is directly relevant to audiences, particularly in areas that may be underserved by the market.

The BBC is editorially and operationally independent, and therefore decisions on how to consider the potential impacts for audiences of these changes under their public sector equality duty is for the BBC. It is also for the BBC to consider the public value associated with any changes to its services.

The government also expects Ofcom, as the independent regulator of the BBC, to ensure the BBC is robustly held to account in delivering its public service duties. As part of this, the BBC will be required to monitor the impact of changes on audiences and publish more information about how it delivers high quality, distinctive content and services for audiences across the UK.

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