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MPs write to watchdog over BBC cuts to regional news services

The broadcaster said that BBC England – which currently has more than 3,000 staff – must save £25 million by April 2022.

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New Broadcasting House in London (Ian West/PA)

New Broadcasting House in London (Ian West/PA)

New Broadcasting House in London (Ian West/PA)

MPs have called on the TV watchdog to look at BBC plans to cut its regional news services.

The broadcaster is planning a shake-up of regional TV news and local radio in England, axing 450 jobs.

The letter to Ofcom calls for a response from the regulator before any “irreparable steps are taken”.

It complains that “local and regional news would appear to be taking a disproportionate share of the cuts being made by the BBC management.”

It calls for a response from Ofcom “before any irreparable step is taken by the Corporation.

“In particular we want to know whether you consider that the BBC is acting in accordance with its mission and purpose,” it states, regarding the changes to local and regional news and current affairs.

The letter was sent by Damian Collins, former chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee  and signed by other MPs in the South East.

The broadcaster has said that BBC England – which currently has more than 3,000 staff – must save £25 million by April 2022.

BBC changes will see one instead of two presenters fronting 6.30pm regional TV news bulletins.

Inside Out, the regional current affairs magazine show made in 11 different regions, will be axed and replaced with a new investigative journalism programme from six hubs.

A “simplified schedule” introduced on local radio during the pandemic, with single instead of double presenters and a reduction in the number of shows, will become permanent.

A BBC spokesperson said: “Given what the BBC has to save, difficult decisions are being made across the BBC.

Local and regional programming is in our DNA but new technologies and ways of working mean we can also operate more efficiently while still providing the quality service that viewers, listeners and readers have come to expect from our services.”

PA