Grahame Morris MP has tabled an Early Day Motion (EDM), in response to reported cuts to regional political programmes BBC Inside Out and Politics North East and Cumbria.

The Easington MP was one of a group of northern Labour MPs who made representations to the BBC Director General last week, raising concerns about the reported cuts to regional political programming.

Mr Morris said, “I am deeply concerned about the reports of cuts to BBC regional political programming, as regional reporting and broadcasting is more important than ever. It has been vital in providing comprehensive coverage of the crisis that we have faced in recent weeks, and will remain so as the long-term effects of the pandemic are realised.”

The EDM has the support of the National Union of Journalists Parliamentary Group. Over 100 personalities, from journalism, the arts, sciences and politics have themselves written to BBC management in defence of regional currents affairs and politics programmes which are under threat.

The signatories include Stephen Fry, Sir Lenny Henry, Dominic West, Gloria Hunniford, Mark Knopfler, Miranda Sawyer, Alexei Sayle, Alison Steadman, Alastair Campbell, Peter Hitchens and Chris Mullin.

Filming has been suspended on the 11 regional Inside Out programmes while a review is carried out on its future. Meanwhile, there are fears that the Sunday Politics programmes, which have been cut from 11 regional broadcasts to one England-wide show due to Covid-19, will not return.

The EDM notes that Inside Out ‘has helped to bring issues of public concern to national attention, serving a valuable function in the democratic life at local authority and constituency-wide level.’ Issues covered and stories broken by Inside Out include:

  • Smart Motorways, an investigation into the number of UK deaths caused by removal of the hard shoulder.
  • County Lines, the impact on the families of young people caught up in drug dealing via so-called County Lines.
  • An investigation into working practices at Sports Direct.
  • A series of investigations into a Bristol surgeon who left hundreds of women maimed and in pain across the country with reckless and unnecessary surgery.

An internal review on the future of the programmes is expected by the end of June 2020.

Full EDM (#612):

‘That this House is concerned to learn the important BBC regional programme Inside Out North East and Cumbria is under threat as the corporation seeks to make cuts to programming; understands that regional segments of the Politics North East and Cumbria are similarly threatened; regrets that all filming of these award-winning BBC regional current affairs programmes have been postponed and these programmes look likely to be shelved following an internal review expected by the end of June 2020; notes that Inside Out is a unique programme, rooted in the heart of our communities, investigating and holding those in power to account and telling remarkable stories of life across the region; further notes that the programme has helped to bring issues of public concern to national attention, serving a valuable function in the democratic life at local authority and constituency-wide level; and supports the call of the National Union of Journalists for the BBC to rethink the proposals to cut those vital, local current affairs programmes.’

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