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A General Debate is scheduled for 8 December 2022 on the future of BBC local radio. The debate will take place in the House of Commons Chamber.

In May 2022, the BBC announced its plans to become a digital-first service. This plan was formulated as both a response to the new licence fee settlement announced in January 2022, and broader changes to its audience’s listening habits. These plans included a commitment to focus the BBC’s local radio programming to where it has the most impact.

In October 2022 the BBC announced more detailed proposed changes to local radio output:

  • All 39 BBC Local Radio stations will continue with their own dedicated local programming from 6am to 2pm on weekdays.
  • Between 2pm-6pm on weekdays, the BBC will produce 18 afternoon programmes across England, with a number of local stations sharing programming.
  • Between 6pm-10pm on weekdays, there will be ten local programmes across England. This will also apply all day on Saturday and on Sunday mornings.
  • These programmes will serve areas that broadly mirror the BBC’s existing local television areas: North West & North East, Yorkshire & Lincolnshire, Midlands, London & East, South and South West.
  • A national ‘all-England’ programme will be launched after 10pm across the week and from 2pm on Sundays.
  • Local news bulletins and sports coverage will continue.

Stakeholder responses

Ofcom has said it will continue to scrutinise the proposals and discuss them with the BBC.

The Government has suggested that whilst it is up to the BBC to decide how its services are allocated, it must make sure it continues to provide distinctive and genuinely local radio services. It has raised these concerns with BBC leadership.

Finalised versions of the plans are due to be put forward in the New Year.

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