RFL urge BBC to rethink local radio cuts



The RFL have slammed the BBC’s decision not to significantly modify their plans to the proposed changes to local radio.

The BBC launched a forum last year to understand what the public want from local radio services across the country, in an attempt to make cuts to the services.

But the RFL claim the BBC have ignored the views of sports fans in their consultation, with only minimal changes being made to the proposal. 

The RFL spearheaded a campaign to save sports coverage in local radio, with stations such as Radio Leeds and Radio Manchester giving rugby league a significant amount of airtime both at weekends and during the week.

However under the BBC’s newest proposal, local radio will still cease to transmit between the hours of 7:00pm and 10:00pm, replaced by a common national broadcast. This will see local sports coverage greatly reduced across all of the BBC’s 40 stations in England.

The RFL’s Acting Communications Director Niel Wood said: “We recognise the financial challenges the BBC faces and we offered to help to find solutions, but after reviewing the BBC’s conclusions it is clear that the concerns of thousands of sports fans have been largely ignored.

“This is not just something supporters of Rugby League need to be worried about. Coverage of other sports including non-Premier League football, cricket, boxing and hockey will also be very badly affected.”

The BBC have already reduced their savings from £15 million to £8 million as a result of the consultation which launched last autumn, but say they aim to safeguard minority sports and local sports coverage to ensure range and variety.

However Wood is still concerned rugby league shows on local radio will be scrapped.

He said: “The sports magazine shows between 7.00 and 10.00pm are hugely popular with Rugby League supporters throughout the UK and we are worried they won’t be replaced because of prohibitive cost or lack of resources.

“We will certainly be seeking further discussion with the BBC to fully understand the extent of the impact of these proposals which threaten to inflict irrevocable damage on the Corporation’s output.”