Mayor tells BBC chiefs that Radio Foyle services must be retained
25 January 2023
The Mayor of Derry and Strabane, Councillor Sandra Duffy, met with BBC chiefs in London today to reiterate her strong opposition to proposed cuts at BBC Radio Foyle and to reinstate her invitation to them to visit Derry.
Welcoming the opportunity to meet with the BBC Chiefs face to face, the Mayor said the meeting was “a frank and open discussion” with the BBC senior officers setting out their rationale for the proposed cuts and their commitment to enhancing and focusing on digital services at the station.
The meeting was attended by senior representatives of the BBC, including the Director of National BBC Rhodhri Davies, and the interim Director of BBC N. Ireland, Adam Smyth.
The Mayor was joined by local elected representatives Colum Eastwood MP and Gregory Campbell MP, who were united in their strong opposition to the cuts, and firm in their joint support for the BBC to reverse their decision to cut Radio Foyle’s breakfast programme, the hourly news bulletins and reduce the number of newsroom staff.
The Mayor said that while she appreciated the opportunity to speak to the officials directly on the issue and to share with them the level of opposition to the cuts from the local community, she was disappointed that they hadn’t come to Derry. She reiterated her invite saying it was hugely important for the BBC chiefs to see for themselves the local reaction to the proposed cuts at the station and the level of support that exists across the North West to retain local public broadcasting services and local media jobs.
In addition to outlining the important role Radio Foyle plays in the daily lives of listeners across the North West region, the Mayor presented the BBC chiefs with copies of local press clippings, the online petition, social media posts and messages of support that have been secured as part of the Save Radio Foyle campaign.
Speaking after the meeting Mayor Duffy said: “At the meeting I stressed the importance of having a regional station in our city and the pivotal role it plays in the local community. I spoke about the uniqueness of Derry and the wider North West region and shared with them details of the recent public meeting that was held in the Guildhall and the huge outpouring of support that exists across all communities in the North West. I outlined that the proposals to cancel Radio Foyle’s Breakfast Show and hourly news bulletins, with the loss of a number of staff, is totally unacceptable and will be strongly opposed at every opportunity.
“I reissued my invite for them to come to Derry, visit the Radio Foyle station and speak to the local community and hear from us directly about what the station means to us and how we need to retain it. Nowhere will you find a media team as embedded in the local community as the one at Radio Foyle and I want the BBC senior team to see for themselves what that really means to the BBC audience. We are bombarded daily with regional and national news content, but Radio Foyle have a pivotal role in refining and breaking that information down in a local context, and focusing on the issues that really matter to local people.
“I highlighted in particular how The Breakfast Show is a flagship programme that has acted as an institution for the people of Derry and surrounding areas for many years, providing a vital platform for conversations around business, politics and current affairs. I sincerely hope that the BBC chiefs took on board our robust case for scrapping the cuts and allowing the services and jobs to be retained.”
Concluding, the Mayor said she hoped the BBC officials accepted her invitation to come to the city but reiterated the call for the public to continue with their support for the #SaveRadioFoyle campaign.
“The fight to SaveRadioFoyle continues. We will continue to oppose these cuts every step of the way,” she added.
The petition is still open to the public to sign online at https://www.megaphone.org.uk/petitions/save-bbc-radio-foyle-oppose-cuts-to-jobs-and-programmes?share=d23feaf6-bc89-45a9-ba01-3b64fd7115a2