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Monday, 25 April 2011

Dorset needs fair play from the BBC!

A key response in a survey carried out by The Dorset Broadcasting Action Group (DorBAG) some time ago was that 95% (of some 4,000 respondents) wanted local news and events coverage on both local radio and on terrestrial television.

Even today, Dorset has no County Wide local radio station - neither from the BBC nor from a commercial operator.
And, apart from the lack of local news and events coverage available to all, there is also the issue that in the event of a major emergency in the county, we will not be informed what to do from our "local radio station"!

DorBAG has since been trying to persuade the BBC to provide the same service that similar sized local counties have e.g. Cornwall and Somerset.   But negotiations have so far proved fruitless.   From the summary of the saga/history on BBC's promises/plans/proposals, (as shown on the DorBAG web site under "Latest News"), all of which have gone by the wayside with various excuses from the BBC, it is clear that Dorset is being given the runaround.   Two of those plans were for a full local radio station based in Dorchester!

Dorset did have a part time (25 hours per week) opt-out programme from BBC Radio Devon between 1993 and 1996, but this was then closed, with the promise that Dorset would receive the same "just under 25 hours per week" dedicated Dorset programmes from Radio Solent.   Today, the only opt-out appears to be a short session on a Saturday morning.   So much for promises!

The BBC's latest plan is for a Breakfast only show "hosted by BBC Radio Solent".    However, as usual they qualify this plan by saying that they can't do anything at the moment because:

a) the BBC English Regions are currently carrying out a pilot in the Yorkshire and South East regions, where groups of BBC stations are sharing output in the afternoons to release resources for peak-time audiences at breakfast. This pilot will come to an end in the summer
b) The plan will then need to be assessed by the BBC Trust in the autumn once the above pilots have been assessed, before any new local radio initiatives can be considered, including a breakfast show for Dorset.
c) It will also be subject to a "Public Value" test in case it is deemed to be competing with Wessex FM.
d) Any decision is unlikely before the end of this year.

This despite the fact that their plan anyway is only for a brealfast programme, so it wouldn't even exceed their minimum requirement!

No doubt they will, once again, tell us that it is not approved because it failed one of the above tests or even that they don't have any money!    Mind you, they can afford a dedicated TV programme for Gaelic speakers in Scotland (for about 60,000 we understand, while Dorset - even without Bournemouth and Poole - has a population of over 500,000!).  

Surely it is time that Dorset had fair play from the BBC??


  1. We need an independent community and tv station run by and for the County of Dorset. We need to 'prove a need' to the BBC.


  2. I agree. BBC Radio Dorset has been talked about for many years in conversations between DorBag members, local officials and helpers as well as many top executives at the BBC itself. Much discussion and also common agreement for some of the time, but very little - if any - real action.

    Having Radio Solent host a breakfast show dedicated to Dorset's news and interests is a bit like a UK national station broadcasting to us from Scandinavia. Much too far away to be relevant to us.


  3. Totally agree with the above. Absolutely fed up of watching news related stories about Plymouth, Exeter etc. Waste of time watching local news.

  4. The BBC clearly thinks that beaurucratic bluster is the way to serve the licence paying public.
    It could easily find the funds to satify Dorsets quite reasonable needs by sacking the many tiers of overpaid beaurearcracy (just look at the ridiculous adverts for BBC managers) and just concentrate the funds on programme providers. I am sure these "doers" could get suitable local coverage working in a matter of weeks not decades.

  5. Having just recently moved to Dorset I was amazed to find that there was no "local" Dorset radio station. It would be invaluable to both locals and tourists alike and would help to promote local attractions and events as well as giving all the latest news.

  6. Spent a fortune buying DAB radios only to discover minimal coverage only. Have to have SKY to even receive Channel 5 on TV. I know we are privileged to live in this part of the world, but in some ways it really does feel like a desert island.Some important announcements are only made on local radio oh well never mind if we live outside the M25 we don't matter do we?
    SP 30th June 2011

  7. Transmissions breaking in over Classic FM - announcer is a female with NO station ident. The transmissions in 2010 were reported to Ofcom as the procedure is, in my opinion as a Class A Radio Amateur (G4JWA), illegal. Any transmission must be identified periodically. Ofcom stated that it was nothing to do with them and was the responsibility of the BBC even though the transmission was a breakthrough on 100.5Mhz (Classic FM). BBC stated that it was nothing to do with them - hardly surprising.
    Summer 2010 various days.
    "Caution A35 queuing traffic, Caution A35 queuing traffic." Repeated periodically.
    31 May 2011 16.45
    "Caution A35 DANGER due to faulty vehicle, Caution A35 DANGER due to faulty vehicle" Repeated every 3 - 4 minutes.
    The information is useless as there is no indication as to the location of the incidents; drivers cannot take sensible remedial action without specific statement of the position of the incidents. These occurrences added to the confusion on the roads as they occurred in holiday periods. The location in the 57.2 miles of the A35 is obviously pertinent and are the problems affecting Eastbound or Westbound traffic??
    The lack of a local radio station is critical as, judging by programmes of other local radio stations, incidents are not only highlighted but given specific and detailed information. In my opinion the void left by the intransigence of the BBC is highly irresponsible - local information of this nature is surely a safety issue. Also surely as the regulator, Ofcom should not shrug its shoulders and ignore the blatant misuse by persons unknown of the VHF frequencies putting out misleading information.
    On the subject of local radio and traffic, why is Dorset ignored totally. The B3157, a widely advertised coast road on the Jurassic coast, has been subject twice to closures and disruption for many days between Weymouth and Bridport. Not only is the information not disseminated on "local radio" but is also completely ignored by Spotlight.

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  9. Dorset is the ONLY county in southern England that does not have its own BBC Radio station! An appalling situation.

    Since 2013 the BBC transmits a Dorset breakfast programme from 0630 to 0900 weekdays, and another on Saturdays from 0800 to 1100. However, it is an opt-out from BBC Radio Solent which means the rest of day we get Radio Solent programmes. PLUS, it only reaches the areas around Dorchester (where the Dorset studio is), Weymouth and Portland! So the rest of the county gets nothing!

    The other very important issue (mentioned in a post above) is that there is no means of informing residents/motorists etc. of any emergencies in the county e.g. snow, floods, accidents, road blockages, major emergencies etc. It is frustrating to be told on Local TV news (not dedicated to Dorset either) that in the event of an emergency etc. we should listen to our local radio. Great!

    To resolve these issues, the BBC needs to install an additional transmitter to broaden coverage for the whole county and then expand the studio/staff etc. as appropriate to provide county-wide coverage.

    Everyone can help lobby the BBC right now as the BBC Trust has just launched a public consultation on local radio (see "Latest News"). It is vital that as many people as possible complete this document either online, by post or by phone. Please spread the word - we need as many responses as possible highlighting the issues that Dorset faces and the solutions needed.