Social Democratic and Labour Party Leader Colum Eastwood MP has said that an attempt to close BBC Radio Foyle by stealth cannot be allowed to proceed.
He was speaking after the BBC announced the axing of the Radio Foyle Breakfast Show and hourly news bulletins, with a number of staff jobs at risk.
Mr Eastwood said the station provides an important service for people in the north west and that its long-term future must be protected.
Foyle MP Mr Eastwood said:
“This decision by the BBC top brass is nothing more than a shameful attempt to begin to shutdown BBC Radio Foyle by stealth. It’s gutting our local station to the point that it will be unsustainable. My thoughts are with all of those who are affected by today’s announcements and now face an uncertain future at what is already a very difficult time.
“Radio Foyle has been broadcasting to people in this area for over 40 years and we have seen numerous attempts to reduce its services and staff. That the station is still such an integral part of life for people in the north west is a tribute to the efforts of all the staff. During previous attempts to make cuts at Radio Foyle we have seen a groundswell of public support and we need to do everything possible to make the BBC aware of how important this station is to this community and to force them to reconsider these decisions. If there are cuts to be made, it should be on some of the outrageous wages that the BBC currently spends. Our local station and listeners should not suffer because the BBC lack the will to upset their highest earners.
“If this goes ahead the BBC can no longer ensure that our local voices and stories are heard by a broad audience. With the media landscape changing drastically in recent years people have come to rely more and more on the BBC when it comes to local news. They provide a vital resource when it comes to covering the issues that matter to our communities and a platform for those wishing to pursue a career in the media. Some of our best-known broadcasters have passed through Radio Foyle and its demise would have a hugely negative impact on journalism in the North.”