BBC content available for community radio stations

Any Community Media Association member station can now take BBC local radio content for free during the current coronavirus crisis.

It’s thanks to a new Memorandum of Understanding agreed between the CMA and BBC England.

Danny Lawrence, Chairman of the Community Media Association, said: “We’re delighted to be working with BBC local radio in this initiative to share their content with community radio stations during this health crisis. This is an excellent example of the CMA-BBC Memorandum of Understanding working in practice.

“It’s vitally important at this time for BBC local radio to partner with local community radio stations to keep our communities safe, informed, and educated. We look forward to furthering the relationships between local community radio and BBC local radio going forward.

“The MOU is about facilitating collaboration between community and BBC local radio. There are great opportunities here for community broadcasting so now is the time to get talking to your local BBC station if the conversation has not already begun.”

Former CMA Chair Dom Chambers, who signed the original Memorandum of Understanding with the BBC tells RadioToday: “Essentially the is an addendum to the 2015 BBC CMA MOU that now offers:

• BBC Local Radio will make its local news bulletins available to CMA radio station partners;

• BBC Local Radio will share its ‘Make A Difference’ information and stories with CMA radio station partners;

• BBC Local Radio will make available key public service drop-ins and interviews to CMA radio station partners; and

• BBC Local Radio will make some locally made programmes (e.g. Breakfast) available to CMA radio station partners.

“In the short term community radio can access BBC content from their local station by recording it themselves. The idea is that local editors will contact Community stations in their area and set up a central dropbox location to access the audio.”

The CMA has set up an email address for anyone want to know more; bbclocalradio@commedia.org.uk.

The move comes as the BBC’s Make a Difference campaign steps up a gear offering free DAB radio sets to people over the age of 70 (click here to apply).

More than 100,000 people have contacted BBC local radio’s Coronavirus helpline since it was set up two weeks ago. It is the biggest response the BBC has ever had to a local radio campaign.

Make a Difference has already helped get essential items to a terminally ill father of three, find a lift to work for an NHS worker whose car had broken down and stopped a man from getting evicted from his home.

Tony Hall, BBC Director-General, says: “The response of the British people in this difficult time has been phenomenal and we are glad to do our bit by helping people help each other.”

“Millions of people are isolating but that doesn’t mean they have to feel isolated. That’s why from today you can nominate someone who is over 70 for a free DAB radio. We hope this will give some of society’s most vulnerable a constant companion.

“Local radio is vital for keeping people connected and we want to reach as many people as possible. For those stuck at home my message is simple: Local radio is there for you.”

Make a Difference was launched on all 39 BBC local radio stations on March 17. It gives half hourly updates on how the Coronavirus is affecting the local area, offers advice and puts people who need help in touch with volunteers.

Since the campaign launched some stations have seen a 300% increase in calls.

Help given includes:

  • A father of three with terminal lung disease whose wife had to go out in search of food and nappies despite the risk of contracting the virus. BBC Radio Nottingham linked them up with a volunteers who now shop for food and nappies for them
  • A frontline NHS worker who couldn’t get to work because her car broke down. A mechanic contacted BBC Radio Devon, gave her a lift and fixed her car while she was at work
  • A man who feared he would lose his house was able to negotiate a temporary rent reduction after advice from BBC Radio Bristol

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