At the beginning of October Mark Thompson, the Director-General of the BBC, published a document called Delivering Quality First (DQF) in which he sets out his plans to save money following the decision by the Government to freeze the license fee until 2017.
These plans would mean a cut in real terms of 20% in BBC Radio Merseyside’s annual budget, leading to job losses of up to 30% – that’s 15 out of the current staff of 46.
All BBC local radio stations would keep their weekday peak time programmes (breakfast, mid-morning, and evening drive-time) but most would share programmes regionally in the afternoon and after 10pm, and every station would share an all-England local radio show (how’s that for a contradiction in terms?) between 7pm and 10pm except when providing local sports commentaries. Billy Butler’s weekday afternoon show would probably survive. Regional sharing would take place on Sunday afternoons and evenings, and at other off-peak times on Saturday.
The upshot of all this is that BBC Radio Merseyside would lose Folkscene, UK radio’s longest running folk show.
Started 44 years ago by Geoff Speed and Stan Ambrose, Folkscene is also the most listened to folk programme on local radio, and the only place where the local folk and acoustic scene is championed on a weekly basis.
But it doesn’t end there. Also set for the axe are:-
Only three specialist programmes will be given protected status and are set to be spared:-
“That’s the point of local radio: it is essentially local, making its own talent and creating its own style. Sadly, it lacks the big guns to press for a reprieve: no friends in high places, like Radio 3 and 4, or trendy London fans like 6 Music.”
Liverpool Acoustic’s Graham Holland added:-
“The BBC is supposed to be a public service broadcaster. If these swingeing cuts are imposed on BBC Radio Merseyside then we can kiss the ‘public’ and ‘service’ elements goodbye. And the same goes for the ‘local’ in BBC Local Radio.”
WHAT CAN WE DO?
There are a number of practical steps that can be taken try to get these cuts reversed, or at least considerably reduced. These are listed here.
Liverpool Acoustic is the only website of its kind in the UK. It was founded by Graham Holland in April 2008 as a central resource for the vibrant and exciting acoustic music scene in Liverpool and the Greater Merseyside area. The website publishes news from the local acoustic music scene, previews of upcoming events, reviews of music releases and gigs, and the Liverpool Acoustic Spotlight podcast. This content is available for free via email subscription. The diary lists acoustic events including festivals, theatre concerts, folk clubs, showcases and open mic nights.
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