BBC pledges local radio ‘renaissance’ after reversing £10m of planned cuts

BBC pledges local radio ‘renaissance’ after reversing £10m of planned cuts

BBC director general Tony Hall has pulled off a surprise U-turn after agreeing to reverse an earlier decision to axe £10m from its local radio budget in order to better combat the rise of fake news.

Hall timed his stay of execution to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the formation the broadcasters first local radio station, BBC Radio Leicester, halting (for now) a steady reduction in investment across its 39 regional radio channels.

The volte face follows a review of BBC local services last year at which the decision was taken to wield the axe to balance the books ahead of the loss of £650m in license fees following the abolition of charges for the over 75’s in 2020.

Explaining his change of heart Hall said: “For many years the BBC has been reducing its investment in local radio. The development of new technology and the growth of smartphones has seen many people getting their local news, weather and traffic information digitally.

“But the rise of digital technology has also seen the rise of fake news, not just on a global level but on a local one as well. That’s why the role of BBC local radio is actually becoming more important – not less.”

A decision on how to spend the unexpected windfall will be taken next year with the £10m hole in the BBC’s budget being shouldered by other departments.

The BBC has been forced to axe more than 1,000 jobs in response to budget cuts.

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