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Local Radio

Volume 990: debated on Thursday 7 August 1980

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asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether the Home Office local radio working party intends to produce a supplementary report to its second report.

Yes. In its second report, published in July 1979, the Home Office local radio working party left open the possibility of a supplementary report. I have now received a supplementary report from the working party, which recommends a modification to the BBC Plymouth station which I approved last year. Copies of the supplementary report are being placed in the Library of the House.Following my decision on the licence fees last November the BBC has revised its plans for local radio and has decided, for financial reasons, to reduce the total number, though not the total coverage, of local radio services it wishes to develop. In England it is now aiming for a pattern of local radio whereby some 35 local radio services, each of approximately county coverage, would provide local radio to approximately 90 per cent. of the population, with the possibility of adding further services at a later date. These plans will be discussed more fully in the working party's third report.Consistently with its revised local radio policy, the BBC proposes to develop a single local radio service for Devon, BBC Radio Devon, with a studio presence in both Exeter and Plymouth and the option to add a studio facility at Barnstable at a later date. This service would replace the regional service, now broadcast from transmitters in Plymouth, Exeter, Barnstaple and Torquay. The BBC is anxious to proceed with this Devon service as part of the transition from regional to local radio in South-West England. Since this proposal for a Devon service with a basis in both Exeter and Plymouth is essentially a modification to the Plymouth radio service, for which the corporation has approval, and arises from financial considerations, I have accepted the working party's recommendation that the proposal as modified should be approved.The working party intends to submit a third report later this year which will include a further discussion of the plans for local and localised radio of both authorities in the United Kingdom as a whole. I intend to make that report available for public comment.