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A brief History of the farcical situation regarding the BBC and its plans for BBC Radio Dorset
Fri 11 Feb 2011

A brief history of BBC Radio Dorset on FM:  The history of the BBC messing Dorset about is horrific!   A county wide station was planned for the early 1990s, but was cancelled in 1990.   In 1993 a new part time station was launched as an opt-out from Radio Devon giving some 25 hours of dedicated Dorset news and events coverage.   In 1996 it was closed, at least partly at the behest of the County Council would you believe(?), and was replaced by an opt-out from Radio Solent, as the DCC claimed the county look east and not west!?   Anyone who can manage to listen to Solent will know that, despite their repeated promises, we do not get anything like "25 hours of dedicated news and events coverage" and nor do we get "85% coverage"!   We have had just one token gesture - the "Big Breakfast Brunch" on a Saturday morning launched in July 2009 on Solent. 

In January 2006, Andy GRiffee, the then Head of English Regions, announced a new plan to to launch a full Radio Dorset station on FM. In October 2007, we were told this plan had been cancelled  due to "lack of funds" - (this is always the excuse despite the BBC having a budget of over £3 billion!).  

In January 2008, Andy Griffee announced that Dorset would be given, as compensation for the cancellation of radio Dorset, one of the first "BBC Local" teams of five people, with one being the manager for Dorset based in Dorchester.   In November 2008, the BBC Trust cancelled all "BBC Local" projects.


In October 2009, Jane McCloskey, the then Head of BBC South West announced plans to re-launch Radio Dorset (part time) as an opt-out from Radio Devon.  It was going to have a modified Bincombe transmitter to at least reach all of east, central and north Dorset.  In September 2009, Jane moved jobs and we are now told by the new Heads of BBC South and South West that there is a new plan to re-launch Radio Dorset as an opt-out from Radio Solent.   (Are you still with us???).  

However it appears that this new plan excludes any modification to the Bincombe transmitter, and it won't happen for ages as they have to do a "Public Value' test as it might infringe on Wessex FM (how can it when we are demanding a full Dorset County station, while Wessex FM coverage is limited?)   [It is critical that Dorset does have a county wide radio on FM (we don't have a single station covering the county today) if only to broadcast information on major emergencies and disasters.   How often did we hear on TV news (when we had the snow this winter) to "listen to your local radio"?]   The BBC Trust has  to approve this latest plan and apparently won't even look at it until autumn 2011 as they are carrying some pilot radio programme schemes elsewhere.   Why oh why don't they run a pilot in Dorset??

This totally unacceptable and farcical situation is to be raised formally by DorBAG with the BBC's Director General.

We will continue to press, not only for our own full county coverage of both Dorset news and activities on Radio & on Terrestrial Television but, in addition, and most importantly, for a consolidated Dorset-wide service that we can all access at the same time, anywhere in the county, by being folded into one BBC Region, and with appropriate/additional transmitter coverage.  


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