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BBC rules out 5 Live & locals merger

BBC director general, Mark Thompson, has ruled out the merger of local radio stations with BBC Radio 5 Live, in an email sent to all staff on Monday.

He said he would not be closing any local radio stations or merging regional TV news operations in England, as part of the Delivering Quality First review.

“I’d also like to reassure you about some of the things that we won’t be proposing, but about which there has been speculation. We won’t be closing any local radio stations or television regions.

“There will be no full or partial merger of local radio and Radio 5Live. We will not be removing BBC Parliament from Freeview. And as you heard from the Chairman earlier this month, we will not be privatising BBC Worldwide,” he said.

An idea to network all BBC local radio stations together outside of breakfast and drivetime with 5 Live has been suggested to senior BBC bosses in March this year. The suggestion came from a Delivering Quality First session, aimed at finding 20 per cent savings over the four years to April 2017.

Thompson continued: “Inevitably the financial challenge we face will mean post closures over the period to 2016 and I appreciate it’s important to end the uncertainty as soon as we can. I expect percentage job losses to be relatively higher in non content areas and among senior managers, and lower in content areas but this picture will vary across the BBC and over time. As always, where possible, we will seek to implement this through turnover, redeployment and voluntary redundancy. We expect the total job losses to be lower than some of the wild numbers I’ve seen in the press.”

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