BBC details shake-up of local radio offering

BBC director of nations Rhodri Talfan Davies spoke at the Westminster Media Forum.

The BBC is launching up to six peak-time BBC local radio services in areas including Bradford, Sunderland and Wolverhampton.

The broadcaster will also offer on-demand news bulletins tailored to listeners’ local areas through its BBC Sounds platform.

BBC director of nations Rhodri Talfan Davies detailed the plans during the Westminster Media Forum on Wednesday.

The services come as part of a package building on the success of the broadcaster’s local and regional services during the pandemic.

Mr Davies said the broadcaster’s aim was “to ensure we develop (local services), modernise them and root them even more deeply in our communities”.

He said: “We’ll be launching up to six new peak-time BBC local radio services in communities where we know we need to do more – including Bradford, Sunderland and Wolverhampton. And we’ll provide on-demand bulletins on BBC Sounds that are tailored to where you live.”

Mr Davies also detailed a shake-up in how prominent local services will be across the BBC’s online platforms.

“Well, for the very first time, we’re going to bring local news and content right to the heart of our online portfolio. Front and centre – not hidden away,” he said.

BBC diversity plan
BBC director-general Tim Davie (Andrew Milligan/PA)

“Across BBC iPlayer, BBC News, BBC Sport and BBC Sounds, we are going to be more local than ever before – better reflecting the passions and identities of a culturally diverse UK.”

He also announced a network of more than 100 digital reporters working in some of the UK’s “most under-served communities”.

On television, the corporation hopes to launch BBC One HD across all English regions by the end of 2022.

The Make a Difference initiative on BBC Local Radio will also be transformed into a year-round commitment by the whole BBC.

Last year then BBC director general Lord Hall announced a shake-up of regional TV news and local radio in England, axing 450 jobs in a bid to save £25 million by April 2022.

He said the corporation’s “local and regional footprint” is “a critical part of our future”.

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