Unions call on broadcasting watchdog to reverse decision on reducing local radio content

The Federation of Entertainment Unions (FEU) is concerned about changes being made within local commercial radio and the decision by Global (which owns Capital, Heart and Smooth) to reduce the number of locally-produced programmes it makes, resulting in the loss of hundreds of jobs in local radio and the closure of eleven local studios. 

These changes have been made following the unnecessary decision by Ofcom to deregulate the conditions for local FM licences (by, for example, reducing the minimum amount of local programming from seven a day to just three), at a time when local radio is thriving, with growing audiences and local advertising revenues. 

Many hundreds of local radio presenters, producers and journalists now face an uncertain future. The replacement of local voices and programmes with more content centrally produced from London, far away from the communities they serve, will have a detrimental impact on media industries across the UK. In the context of cuts to journalists’ jobs and closures of local newspapers, this will add to the serious decline in local news for UK citizens.

These ill-considered changes have taken place without adequate Parliamentary scrutiny of their potential effect on local jobs and in an industry without a recognised trade union, and the FEU supports calls for an urgent review of the decision by Ofcom.

The FEU is an alliance of unions in the creative industries representing workers in TV, radio, theatre, film, music, gaming, cinema, publishing, new media, professional football and other performing arts.

The FEU comprises Equity, BECTU, Musicians’ Union, National Union of Journalists and the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain. 

The Local Radio Group
The Local Radio Group has been raising awareness of what’s been happening and campaigning against this change. It has produced a report and is on Twitter at @LocalRadioGroup. LRG has documented how Heart local breakfast shows are due to be slashed from 22 separate shows to just one national show, while 14 local breakfast shows on Capital have already been revised to just one national show and Global’s Smooth brand will also be losing local breakfast shows to make way for just one national show.