Stephen Glover: The BBC is wrong to cut back local radio

Media Studies: Incompetent councillors and dodgy businessmen will draw comfort from the announcement

Incompetent councillors and dodgy businessmen must have drawn comfort from last week's announcement by Mark Thompson, director general of the BBC, about cutbacks to local radio and television. Although most local stations are run on a shoestring, the axe is falling harder on them than on better funded parts of the Corporation.

Local radio in particular will suffer. During the afternoon the output of your local station will amalgamate with that of one or more of its neighbours. Between 7pm and 10pm there will be national programming shared by every station, which makes a nonsense of the very notion of local radio, while throughout the night you will be forced to listen to Radio 5 Live if you turn on your local station.

Dozens of local newspapers have closed down in recent years as a result of the flight of classified advertising to the internet, and some dailytitles have become weekly ones. Papers which survive have cut back their editorial staffs. The result is that in most parts of the country there are fewer reporters holding police, officials and other bodies to account. BBC local radio and television may not always be brilliant at fulfilling this role, but they have been able at least partly to fill the gap left by the decline of the regional press.

I appreciate that cuts have to be found somewhere as a result of the Government freezing the licence fee until 2016. But it doesn't seem fair to ring-fence Radio 4 from any cuts at all, excellent though it is, while reducing local radio's budget by 4.2 per cent. In order to save £27m across the English regions – less than 3 per cent of BBC1's entire budget – local television news will have fewer bulletins, and neighbouring regions will share current affairs programming.

In proposing these cuts, which are supposedly being put out to consultation until the end of the year, the BBC has been thinking only of itself, balancing the interests of its various outlets against one another. But in the case of local television and radio it should have also been weighing its wider social and civic duty as a public service broadcaster to supply proper local news, unfashionable a consideration though that may be to its metropolitan mandarins.

If the Corporation's national news coverage were fractionally weakened by the cuts – though I doubt it will be – we could console ourselves with the thought that there are other excellent national broadcasters as well as a robust national press. Not so with radio and television in the regions, where rival broadcasters have retreated or never arrived, and newspapers are much weaker than they were. A dodgy businessman or incompetent councillor may escape the notice of a BBC local station required to cover several large towns and pump out national news. The Corporation should think again.







News of the World is wiped from history



Two Pakistani cricketers are on trial at Southwark Crown Court, accused of conspiring to fix a Test at Lord's last year. It is alleged that former captain Salman Butt ordered two team-mates to bowl no-balls at specific moments in return for substantial cash bribes.

This case would not have come to court were it not for the now defunct News of the World. Its famous reporter Mazhar Mahmood (aka "the fake sheikh") posed as a businessman, allegedly passing money to agent and former football club owner Mazhar Majeed. The paper's purpose was to expose corruption in cricket, and if the defendants are found guilty it will have succeeded.

And yet some reporting of the trial does not mention the widely derided News of the World. ITV's News at Ten last Wednesday reported the opening day of the case without naming the paper by name. Mazhar Mahmood was referred to as "a journalist".

I understand that the News of the World has become a non-paper, universally loathed and now written out of history. Even so, if a celebrated racketeer saved the life of a drowning girl the media would mention his name. Notwithstanding the evils of phone-hacking we shouldn't forget the paper did some good things.







Throwing it away for politics



It was with some shock that I read that Julian Glover, a leader writer on The Guardian, is becoming David Cameron's chief speechwriter. The shock is not that a Conservative leader should wish to hire someone from a leftish newspaper – Mr Glover (no relation, by the way) is said to be a liberal Tory. No, the surprise is that a talented journalist should throw away a promising career to become a wordsmith for Mr Cameron.

There was a time when a leader writer could happily moonlight as a political speechwriter. William Rees-Mogg describes in his recent memoirs how as a young chief leader writer on the Financial Times in the mid-1950s he wrote speeches for Anthony Eden, putting words into the Prime Minister's mouth about the Suez crisis when he was writing on the same subject for his newspaper. When I joined The Daily Telegraph in 1978, there were two leader writers, the great TE Utley and Alfred Sherman, who helped Margaret Thatcher with ideas and phrases.

Such a combination of seemingly clashing duties may offend modern sensibilities, but I am far more shocked that Mr Glover should have sacrificed a great journalistic future for a here-today, gone-tomorrow politician.

s.glover@independent.co.uk

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
Young Winstone: His ‘tough-guy’ image is a misconception
people
Sport
Adnan Januzaj and Gareth Bale
footballManchester United set to loan out Januzaj to make room for Bale - if a move for the Welshman firms up
Arts and Entertainment
Ellie Levenson’s The Election book demystifies politics for children
bookNew children's book primes the next generation for politics
News
Outspoken: Alexander Fury, John Rentoul, Ellen E Jones and Katy Guest
newsFrom the Scottish referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
i100
Sport
Yaya Sanogo, Mats Hummels, Troy Deeney and Adnan Januzaj
footballMost Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
Arts and Entertainment
L to R: Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Captain America (Chris Evans) & Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) in Avengers Assemble
film
News
Nigel Farage celebrates with a pint after early local election results in the Hoy and Helmet pub in South Benfleet in Essex
peopleHe has shaped British politics 'for good or ill'
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams' “Happy” was the most searched-for song lyric of 2014
musicThe power of song never greater, according to our internet searches
Sport
Tim Sherwood raises his hand after the 1-0 victory over Stoke
footballFormer Tottenham boss leads list of candidates to replace Neil Warnock
Arts and Entertainment
Sink the Pink's 2013 New Year's Eve party
musicFour of Britain's top DJs give their verdict on how to party into 2015
Voices
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers
voicesIt has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Arts and Entertainment
Roffey says: 'All of us carry shame and taboo around about our sexuality. But I was determined not to let shame stop me writing my memoir.'
books
News
i100
News
Caplan says of Jacobs: 'She is a very collaborative director, and gives actors a lot of freedom. She makes things happen.'
people
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: Brand Marketing Manager - Essex - £45,000 + £5000 car allowance

£40000 - £45000 per annum + car allowance: Ashdown Group: Senior Brand Manager...

Guru Careers: .NET Developer /.NET Software Developer

£26 - 35k (DOE): Guru Careers: We are seeking a .NET Developer /.NET Software ...

Guru Careers: Graduate Marketing Analyst / Online Marketing Exec (SEO / PPC)

£18 - 24k (DOE): Guru Careers: A Graduate Marketing Analyst / Online Marketing...

Guru Careers: Technical Operations Manager

£Neg. (DOE) + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Technical Ope...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

How we met

Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

Who does your club need in the transfer window?

Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
The Last Word: From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015

Michael Calvin's Last Word

From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015