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BBC reps fear new format will ‘dumb down’ local radio news

JOURNALISTS fear that new BBC-imposed format for local radio will mean hard and investigative news being played down in favour of lighter, “fluffy” stories and more entertainment.

National Union of Journalists (NUJ) representatives from local radio stations across England said the new format will result in less robust political reporting holding those in power to account.

News reporters will be allocated additional duties which could include music scheduling, creating entertainment-based features and creating non-news material.

NUJ national broadcasting officer Paul Siegert said: “Local radio news is about connecting with local communities.

“It is about reflecting their lives and producing warm-hearted human interest stories.

“But it is also about holding local politicians, businesses, health trusts and schools to account. 

“Our reps in local news believe the new format will downplay ‘serious’ news and are deeply concerned.

“BBC management needs to answer these questions about the future of local radio news content.”

Director of BBC England Helen Thomas said: “Providing local news and information is at the heart of what our local radio stations do and always will be. Any suggestion otherwise is completely untrue and misleading. Right now, the need for local news has never been greater and I’m proud of our teams in local radio.”

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