A TOWN council in Oxfordshire has written to the Secretary of State for Culture Media and Sport to express ‘dismay’ at the cuts to the local BBC radio and television programme.

BBC South Today aired for the last time at 6.30pm on Friday (December 16) last week and will now merge with the Southampton regional programme.

There are also plans for ‘extensive’ cuts to local BBC radio programmes. BBC announced the plans earlier this year saying it needs to save £285 due to the licence fee being frozen for the next two years.

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However, Abingdon Town Council will be writing to Rt Hon Michelle Donelan MP to ‘demand’ that the Government find a way to over the shortfall of the license to keep the media services.

Councillor Jim Halliday proposed a motion to write to the Government earlier this month, stating the council is ‘extremely concerned’ by the cuts.

He said: “BBC Radio Oxford is a vital service for people in Abingdon. It helps residents stay connected to their local community, providing local news, culture, sport and weather updates, and gives residents an opportunity to have their say and participate in local debates through phone-ins.

“BBC local radio does this in a unique way that commercial radio cannot quite match.”

He added that the station, as well as BBC South Today, help to spread information about the coronavirus pandemic as well as playing a ‘crucial role’ in updating residents about the cost-of-living crisis and how to find support services such as warm banks.

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The motion was seconded by councillor Neil Fawcett and approved that a letter should be sent from the town clerk.

A section of the letter reads: “The town council recognises the BBC is being forced into cuts by successive Government freezes to the license fee and the withdrawal of funding for free licenses for over 75’s.

“The town council calls on the Government to fund the BBC properly so it can continue to deliver a full schedule of local radio programming across the UK – in addition to it’s planned expansion of digital radio services.”

It was also recommended that the town clerk writes a letter to the Director General of the BBC, Tim Davie, to celebrate the ‘irreplaceable local service’ that both BBC Radio Oxford and BBC South Today provide to residents.

The letter added: “[The council wants to] stress our desire for their local programming to be protected and retained.”

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Speaking about the decision earlier this year, BBC Nations director Rhodri Talfan Davies said it was a ‘difficult decision’ but he wanted to ‘strengthen’ local online news services.


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This story was written by Gee Harland. She joined the team in 2022 as a senior multimedia reporter.

Gee covers Abingdon, Didcot, Wallingford and Wantage.

Get in touch with her by emailing: gee.harland@newsquest.co.uk

Follow her on Twitter @geeharland