​“I fear for independent artists”: BBC local radio cuts could be the end of diverse programming

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Radio hosts and artists fear the end of diverse radio programming in the UK as hundreds of local BBC radio stations, many of which champion Black & Asian music, are reportedly being axed.

In October, the BBC announced plans that could see many African Caribbean and Asian shows on BBC local radio scrapped — while just 10 local stations will continue their scheduling from 6:PM – 10:PM on weekdays, all day on Saturdays, and on Sunday mornings.

The announcement proposed that all 39 local stations will continue their usual schedule on weekday mornings from 6:AM – 2:PM, but imminent cuts mean hosts are left fearing for their jobs.

“When the proposals were announced it seemed my show along with all the other local Black and Asian shows were due to be axed,” says local BBC host Edward Adoo.

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“We have been since assured the community programmes are not being cut, but no decision has been made on whether my show will survive the cuts,” he tells Mixmag.

Adoo urged that this could also signal the end of diverse programming at BBC, with his recently launched ’15 Minute Mixtape’ initiative, one of few mix shows giving a platform to Black music, taking a hit.

“The 15 Minute Mixtape, which champions local DJs and gives them the opportunity to share their favourite Black music tracks, would be axed under the proposals,” he explains. “If that disappears, there won’t be any.”

“As a DJ, I know it’s increasingly hard to get mixes aired on local radio. I also fear for independent artists, new music, and generally the tracks which never get played that serve the community and beyond,” Adoo says.

As cuts to BBC programming continue, a proposed 382 posts at the World Service could close as the BBC attempts to meet £28.5 million in annual savings for its international services.

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For BBC local radio, recent cuts mean the loss of 48 jobs, while conversations are still ongoing about further plans and axes to local stations.

Former BBC London presenter Henry Bonsu spoke to The Voice about these recent changes, fearing: “I would be concerned as somebody who used to broadcast on BBC London and who has kept tabs on some of the diverse programming on the BBC across the English regions.”

“I remember the landmark BBC report People and Programmes from 1996, which led to the setting up of a lot of these diverse programmes around the country,” he said. “It found that BBC local radio had almost no black audience.”

“These programmes helped to turn that around. It would be a shame if, at a time of heightened awareness of diversity, and all the promises that the BBC and other broadcasters have made post-George Floyd, the corporation were to roll back on these programmes.”

Gemma Ross is Mixmag’s Editorial Assistant, follow her on Twitter

Written by: Tim Hopkins

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