Yorkshire MPs including Ed Miliband, Yvette Cooper, Rachel Reeves and Hilary Benn sign letter urging BBC not to scrap Iocal programmes like Inside Out and Politics North due to budget cuts

BBC Look North presenter Keeley Donovan fronts Inside Out in Yorkshire and LincolnshireBBC Look North presenter Keeley Donovan fronts Inside Out in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire
BBC Look North presenter Keeley Donovan fronts Inside Out in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire
Labour MPs in Yorkshire and the Humber have today issued a call for the BBC to protect local political and current affairs programmes, saying they provide an “essential role”.

The demand comes amid a BBC review into regional programming and reports of planned cuts to the award winning television programmes Inside Out and Politics North.

Signed by 28 MPs across the region, the letter urges the BBC to support regional programming and avoid important issues being confined to a “Westminster bubble”.

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This follows revelations that the BBC will have to find £125m savings this year, caused by fewer people paying for their TV licences during the pandemic and a delay to the reintroduction of TV licences for over 75s.

All non-essential recruitment at the broadcaster will be put on hold as part of cost-cutting measures and senior leaders will take a pay freeze until August 2021, the BBC has said.

Similar sized black holes have also cropped up in ITV and Channel 4 budgets, with both broadcasters saying they will need to cut back on programming, particularly new drama.

The letter, signed by MPs across all four counties, states: “We would like to take this opportunity to pledge our support for the future of the programmes and ask for clarity on your plans for regional political reporting.

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“Too often, politics is seen as remote; important issues confined to a Westminster bubble - but it is our job and yours to prove that that is not the case. It is critical that our local councils are scrutinised and held accountable, but also given a voice. Our local reporters, who live and work in the community, provide invaluable insight and analysis into local decision making and its impact on residents across the region.

“These BBC programmes provide agenda-setting reporting, as well as a platform for MPs, councillors, and candidates to highlight issues and debate ideas, within a regional context. It is essential the BBC guarantee such a platform exists in regional programming.”

This follows a similar letter written by the National Union of Journalists last week, which was signed by broadcasters Stephen Fry and Sir Lenny Henry, presenter Fern Britton, actor Dominic West, naturalist Chris Packham, writer and actor Daisy May Cooper, poet Benjamin Zephaniah, director Ken Loach and broadcaster Gloria Hunniford.

Jo Stevens MP, Labour’s Shadow Culture Secretary, said: “Local BBC investigations and programmes have had a lasting impact and have helped keep our communities connected. But local issues deserve a platform as much as those dominating at Westminster.

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“Despite the challenges facing the BBC, local reporting in Yorkshire and the Humber is vital for democracy and transparency. We must not let it fall away.”

Inside Out is broadcast in 11 regions, covering a wide array of stories and issues affecting life in those areas.

The programme was slated to return in September with each region filming their own versions of the nine-episode series.

It is understood that the BBC will save about £3m by scrapping the programme.