Gerald Kaufman, Labour chairman of the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee, told senior BBC officials: "You plan to consign this coverage to the ghetto of long-wave radio." He demanded a written undertaking from Sir Christopher Bland, the BBC chairman, that no changes would be made to parliamentary coverage until the committee had made its report - but Sir Christopher last night rejected that request, saying it would "seriously compromise the independence" of BBC governors.
In evidence yesterday, Will Wyatt, the chief executive of BBC Broadcasting, and Matthew Bannister, the managing director of Network Radio BBC, defended the planned changes, insisting that parliamentary coverage would be "enhanced" as a result.
The BBC plans include a new Sunday evening programme on Radio 4 covering Westminster, and a new nightly programme on Radio 2 covering the day in Parliament, but Today in Parliament is to remain on long wave, and Yesterday in Parliament, now run after the Today programme on FM, is to move to long wave.
Mr Kaufman said Today in Parliament's audience had been halved since its move from FM, and he claimed that listeners were being deprived of the chance to hear it.
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