Belfast Telegraph

3,500 sign petition to BBC to get axed Sean Coyle back on radio

Sean Coyle was told by BBC last week that his show was being ditched
Sean Coyle was told by BBC last week that his show was being ditched

By Christopher Leebody

A petition to reinstate the axed BBC broadcaster Sean Coyle has been signed by more than 3,500 people over the weekend.

The veteran BBC Radio Ulster host announced his immediate departure live on Friday morning's show after being informed of his future by bosses earlier in the week.

The announcement prompted widespread reaction over the airwaves and across social media with many, including political figures, criticising the public sector broadcaster's decision making.

Mr Coyle (72) had been a fixture on the airwaves of BBC Radio Ulster for more than 35 years, most notably alongside the late Gerry Anderson, before later presenting the show solo after his friend's death in 2014.

The show aired from 10.30am to noon every weekday and was the third most listened-to radio show on Radio Ulster.

A petition to reinstate Mr Coyle to his usual mid-morning slot has been steadily growing over the weekend with many comments alongside the signatures praising Sean Coyle's unique presenting style and ability to connect with listeners.

One of those who has signed the change.org petition is Ulster Unionist councillor Mark Brooks, who is asking the BBC to review their decision in light of the significant public outcry.

He said: "I am a radio listener myself and I would consider myself a supporter of the BBC and the services they provide.

"There are numerous excellent commercial stations in Northern Ireland broadcasting at the time Sean is on, but none offer anything to the demographic listening at that time.

"The appeal to the show was that he was a local boy speaking to his own audience.

"The BBC's own mission statement requires it to act in the public interest and serve all audiences in the provision of distinctive output that informs, educates and entertains.

"They have done this extremely suddenly."

He added that while Mr Coyle's show had a reputation for attracting an older demographic of listeners, the response he has had on social media from those of all ages demonstrates the wide appeal he had.

He said: "I have had a number of people who have contacted me and I have posted it on my own social media page and had a lot of reaction. A lot of the comments on my social media are comments from younger people.

"Listening to the general public I can hear a lot of upset. I will be personally writing a letter to the BBC asking them to review the decision.

"I'm going to write to the BBC NI controller to ask for a reason and also to clarify if they are replacing the programme to be something complementary to the slot. I want to give my own personal comments on the situation on behalf of my constituents.

"If you turn onto any other commercial station at the time, Cool FM, Downtown, Q Radio etc, there is nothing at that time of the day that is offering a middle of the road local chat type of programme.

"It is up to the people to have an input in that. They seem to have done this without any sort of consultation."

The BBC is yet to make any official comment on what will replace the show, with a spokesperson for the organisation saying that "details of immediate and future plans for the 10.30am Monday-Friday slot on BBC Radio Ulster will be confirmed in due course".

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