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BBC Trust approves revised DQF plans

All BBC local radio stations will network a new all-England evening show under revised DQF plans announced today.

The BBC estimates overall 130 posts will be lost instead of the original estimate of 280 and the savings target is now 8 million pounds compared with the original of 15 million pounds.

In addition, 40 management posts will either be closed or redeployed into non-management duties.

During the evenings, opt-outs for live sport and local news will continue, and all stations will broadcast BBC Radio 5 Live overnight.

The Trust says each local station should start broadcasting at 6am, losing their early show, and the locally split breakfast programmes within Devon, Three Counties, Wiltshire and Cambridgeshire will end.

However, a new breakfast opt out of Solent for West Dorset will be created under the new plans.

The revised plans also means BBC Asian Network will stay, but with a task to reduce costs. The Trust found that Asian Network is a unique service, with a particular value placed by listeners on the station’s approach to Asian artists and new music, and the Trust has set the station a challenge to sustain these distinctive elements and recent improvements in quality while reducing its costs.

Commenting on the DQF conclusions, Lord Patten, BBC Trust Chairman, said: “This is the end of a lengthy process for the BBC, designed to ensure we can meet a tough but fair licence settlement for the next five years. Delivering the changes we have approved today will be challenging, but they are necessary.

“We’ve listened carefully to the views of those who care about the BBC, and taken our time to get this right, encouraging the Executive to amend plans where we think they need further thought, as the changes to Local Radio proposals show.

“Our focus now is to ensure that audiences notice as little change as possible to the services they know and love, and we will be monitoring audience reactions very carefully through our ongoing programme of reviews and reports.”

Mehmuda Mian, the BBC Trustee who led the reviews of Asian Network and Local Radio, added: “Local Radio provides a much-loved service. It’s a companion to many, and can be a lifeline in local emergencies. In January we asked BBC management to scale their original plans back to ensure that Local Radio retains its local character. We’re happy that the BBC’s revised proposals achieve this while recognising that it is appropriate for Local Radio to share some of the burden of savings in line with the strategy we have set.

“The Asian Network provides a unique service for an audience that is typically under-served by the BBC. Listeners value the station’s news, speech and music output; in particular its commitment to British Asian artists and new music. The challenge for the service over the next few years will be to maintain its distinctiveness.”

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