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BBC bosses urged to meet listeners affected by local news cuts

seamus-dooleyJournalism union chiefs have demanded the BBC’s director general visits an area facing cuts to local news and radio services.

The National Union of Journalists has called on Tim Davie to visit Northern Ireland, where the daily breakfast news programme on BBC Radio Foyle is set to be scrapped.

The Derry-based station will also lose its hourly regional news bulletins as part of a plan to save £2.3m, with an estimated 36 jobs being placed at risk as a result of the proposals.

The NUJ’s plea comes after it held a public meeting on Wednesday, which it estimates was attended by more than 250 people.

NUJ assistant general secretary Séamus Dooley, pictured, said: “The historic Guildhall [in Derry] echoed to the rafters as more than 250 people demanded the retention of existing news services at Radio Foyle.

“The director general and chair need to show leadership, to engage with the community and hear what their incredibly local listeners have to say.

“The powerful testimonies from across every sector of the community are confirmation of the role Radio Foyle plays within its vast catchment area, which extends beyond Derry’s walls.

“Because of the current political deadlock in Northern Ireland there is no NI nominee to the board, as provided for in legislation.

“In these circumstances there is a particular onus on [BBC chairman] Richard Sharp to protect the interest of Northern Ireland. One way he can do this is by coming to Northern Ireland and engaging with the community.

“There is a compelling logic in postposing the proposed cuts to Radio Foyle. We need a review of the full implications for a unique region of what many see as the first step in dismantling a station set up to address an imbalance in regional coverage.”

In response, a BBC spokesperson said: “We are committed to Foyle as a production centre for local and regional content.

“The savings plans we have announced affect many different people and teams within BBC NI. Our engagement with them is ongoing.”