Letter sent to BBC regarding cuts to local Radio Station
As a locally elected councillor I am concerned to hear about the proposals to local radio services and how they will affect the quality, appropriateness, suitability and localness of our provision.
I am shocked to find the level of reduction to services generally but in particular the impact it will have on ethnic minority programmes on BBC Radio Sheffield. We currently enjoy a number of ethnic minority programmes in English, Urdu, Punjabi, Potohari, Bengali and Mirpuri. The programmes focus on the issues that matter to us as ethnic minority communities.
We have been asking for an increased provision of these services locally and are very disappointed that the BBC proposes instead to cut these services further even to the extent of having no programming at all in community languages.
The presenters of these programmes are local, living within and understanding the communities for which they broadcast local programmes. These services can in no way be replaced by a national station such as the Asian Network as there are a whole range of local issues that just won’t be covered and additionally won’t be covered with the correct understanding and respect of the local communities. Local Asian programming is different to Asian Network programming in the same way that local radio broadcasting is different from national network broadcasting. Clearly there is a need for both national and localised programmes generally and the same argument holds for programmes targeted at Asian communities.
The Asian Network frequency reception locally is non-existent and your proposals will lead to a loss of all provision for Asian communities in South Yorkshire.
Many of our local ethnic programmes are broadcast on the medium wave frequency which we note you propose to terminate, resulting in the termination of these programmes too. Your stated ambition is to ‘increase distinctiveness of BBC services and serve all audiences’ – are Asian communities not part of the ‘all audiences’ you wish to serve? The provision of a medium wave service lies at the heart of Asian programming for us locally and this should be maintained.
There is a distinctiveness to BBC programming which research has shown is taken to be of higher value, quality and trust by ethnic minority communities in this country and by people overseas consuming BBC provision. It can not be covered by any other provision whether this be in the community or commercial sector. Why then would the BBC wish to undermine the great respect and admiration these communities have by cutting their services? Are we not also licence fee payers and therefore deserving of a service that caters for our specific needs?
I understand that there need to be some changes and efficiency measures in the current times of austerity. However equality should not be undermined by tight budgets. These are the times when consolidation and strengthening of these essential services is required.
I oppose any move that would reduce ethnic minority programming at local level, this includes the proposal to terminate medium wave broadcasting.
I trust that you will bear in mind your responsibility to act fairly, equitably and responsibly in carrying out your duties and that local ethnic minority targeted programming can continue – in English and in community languages.
Councillor Mahroof Hussain MBE