The BBC Trust has announced that it has instructed the BBC to look again at the review of local radio and its original proposals which would have had significant impact on local sports broadcasting.
In his announcement, BBC Trust Chairman Lord Patten gave notice to the impact the proposals would have on Rugby League in particular and instructed the BBC to ensure “ways are found to continue to protect more specialist and distinctive local content out of peak.”
He continued, “alongside local news and information, the evening and weekend schedules of many local radio stations carry unique or specialist local content that is of particular value to their audience – for instance sports coverage that has a particular resonance in a particular area such as Rugby League and football.”
Specifically, the BBC Trust asked the BBC to review three key areas:
- To scale back plans for local radio to share programmes in the afternoon;
- To ensure that local stations have “an adequately staffed newsroom”; and
- To protect specialist content outside peak times – for example local sports or specialist music shows.
Since the BBC put forward its consultation, the RFL led the campaign on behalf of all sports alongside the All Party Parliamentary Rugby League Group to ensure that better solutions could be found. The RFL worked with other sports bodies and fans of Rugby League to respond to the consultation – which resulted in more submissions than ever before; the lion’s share of which came from Rugby League fans.
On hearing the announcement, RFL Chairman Richard Lewis said: “This is excellent news for fans of all sports and particularly Rugby League which as a community-focused game would have been the worst hit if the BBC’s plans were implemented.
“The sports output from BBC local radio stations is one of the defining qualities of a region and we are encouraged that the BBC Trust have listened to the voice of local people and have decided to re-think their proposals. I want to thank the Members of Parliament in the All Party Parliamentary Rugby League Group and all those that took the time to write to the BBC. The voice of Rugby League fans has obviously made a huge difference.
“We recognise the difficult situation the BBC faces and appreciate it has to make tough choices, however this review gives us the opportunity to consider other options and I look forward to the RFL and the BBC working together to find a more pragmatic solution.”