BBC Trust approves local services proposals

by Andy Sennitt

The BBC Trust has today announced that it has approved revised plans to enhance the BBC’s local TV and radio services in the regions and nations. The revised plan contains the following measures:

* An annual ’state of the nation/region’ journalism initiative in each nation and region
* A fund for programming in the English regions
* More landmark factual programming in the devolved nations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland
* Geographically targeted sports coverage
* Improvements to nations and regions linear TV and radio news including coverage of local government
* A more geographically representative newsgathering operation
* Distinctive factual programming in the devolved nations
* Regional radio opt outs on national radio services in Wales and Scotland

The cost of delivering these measures will be fully covered by efficiency savings within the BBC’s current portfolio of nations and regions services. There will be annual investment of up to £8.5 million in 2009/10, peaking at £15.3 million in 2012/13.

Examples of the changes will include two additional weekend news bulletins in each nation and English region, and improved local news provision at breakfast and late evening. The introduction of regional radio news opt outs for Wales, and the enhancement of six opt outs for Scotland, will help address the purpose gap deficit in the devolved nations.