Letter: BBC tuned in to local radio

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The Independent Online
BBC tuned in to local radio

Sir: Polly Toynbee ("Local radio? Why not news from your own street", 15 January) is quite right about there being space on the dial for intelligent, locally based speech radio. We think so too. That is why the BBC's local radio stations have increasingly developed a unique role across the country - providing the community with local news, information and debate, and performing an important role as a platform for local democracy.

When major stories break in London, listeners know they will find in- depth coverage on BBC GLR. This "low-rating" service attracts more than 400,000 regular listeners.

Ms Toynbee is right, too, about the difficulties that regional television news services have in being genuinely local - a universal problem, not one unique to London. That's why, recognising the audience's appetite for greater localness, the BBC has committed itself to expand its broadcasting presence into more communities across the land, introducing new digital technology, broadcasting live reports from new fast-response vehicles, and strengthening the local content of our programmes.

Yet although it encompasses a large part of the South-east, BBC Newsroom South East is enormously popular within the Greater London area, currently enjoying a record 43 per cent share - more than 1.5 million nightly viewers - its highest for more than two years.

NIGEL CHAPMAN

Controller, English Regions, BBC

Birmingham

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