An Oxford MP has slammed the proposed cuts to the BBC South Today Oxford Bulletin as part of the government’s ”callous war on the BBC’.
Lib Dem MP for Oxford West and Abingdon Layla Moran commented that having previously lost its breakfast and lunchtime bulletins, the Oxfordshire news was being ‘squeezed out’.
The BBC announcement was made ahead of a series of planned cuts to regional news after the TV license fee was frozen until 2024 by the government, in the wake of the cost of living crisis.
The regional TV is planned to merge with the Southampton regional programme in November.
Ms Moran said: “Our local BBC service is greatly treasured by Oxfordshire residents, and is a vital trustworthy news source in a time where fake news and disinformation are on the rise.
“Our local news service has played an incredibly important and dedicated role during the coronavirus pandemic, and I am saddened to see it is now facing withdrawal.
She added that it was ‘impractical for Oxfordshire and Hampshire to share the same news bulletin and said: “I am worried that Oxfordshire news may get squeezed out, meaning we lose out coverage for important local stories.
“The Oxford-based team is full of talented journalists, crew and creatives from our area, and I am deeply disappointed that this decision means we may see less of the excellent content that they produce on our TV screens.
“This, sadly, is the result of Nadine Dorries’ and the Conservative Government’s callous war on the BBC.”
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Nadine Dorries said on the topic of the change: “The BBC is a world-class broadcaster but one which has to adapt to a rapidly changing landscape just like all broadcasters are.
“The Government is committed to ensuring the BBC is more impartial, more accessible and more reflective of our country’s variety of viewpoints.
“This review will build on our recent progress to make the BBC more accountable to those who fund it, level up people’s access to the job opportunities it offers and ensure it continues to work in the best interest of the public.”
BBC Nations director Rhodri Talfan Davies said it was a “difficult decision” but he wanted to “strengthen” local online news services.
He said that the show attracts a smaller audience than other regional news shows in England”.
It comes ahead of further announcements of cuts expected on Thursday.
He said while roles were not “at risk of redundancy today”, this could change in mid-July when more clarity is given.
A BBC spokesperson said: “We’re proud of our Oxford service, which has served viewers well and produced some great journalism.
“We need to make tough choices as we change our services in line with audience needs. The Oxford service is one of our lowest performing programme and viewers already get news broadcast from Southampton at other times of the day.
“We’ll maintain a presence in Oxford.”
The Oxford programme employs 18 staff and is broadcast on weekdays at 18:30 from its Summertown studios.
This story was written by Shosha Adie.
She joined the team in 2022 as a digital reporter.
To get in touch with her email: [email protected]
Follow her on Twitter: @ShoshaAdie
A message from our Editor
Thank you for reading this story and supporting the Oxford Mail.
If you like what we do please consider getting a subscription for the Oxford Mail and in return we’ll give you unrestricted access with less adverts across our website from the latest news, investigations, features, and sport.
Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tik Tok for more.
You can also join the conversation in our Facebook groups: stay ahead of traffic alerts here, keep up to date with the latest from court here, share your favourite memories of Oxford here, get your daily dose of celebrity news here and take some time out with news that will make you smile.