Concerns raised as BBC announces closure of its Portsmouth office

CONCERNS have been raised that the closure of a BBC office in Portsmouth will affect communities ‘when demand for local news has never been higher’.
The BBC is closing its office at Gunwharf Quays. Picture: James NewellThe BBC is closing its office at Gunwharf Quays. Picture: James Newell
The BBC is closing its office at Gunwharf Quays. Picture: James Newell

As part of a nationwide drive to save cash the BBC is set to shut its branch in Gunwharf Quays, which is used as a hub for journalists and to record news reports, as of July 31.

Around 20 ‘satellite’ offices across England will also be closed with the company insisting jobs and local radio shows are safe.

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A BBC spokesman said: ‘We have 39 broadcast bases across England. These sites are supported by a number of very small, often unstaffed sites in nearby locations.

‘New technology means these smaller sites are no longer needed. Closing them will save money at a time when the BBC faces significant financial pressures. There will be no job losses and our services in those areas will not change.’

Kevin Stanley, National Union of Journalists representative for BBC regions, had fears for what this could means for the community. ‘The nearest BBC station for Portsmouth will now be Southampton or Brighton which are a considerable drive,’ he said.

‘What this does is it reduces the BBC’s presence in communities and it's ironic that that these closures should be announced at a time when demand for local news has never been higher. While we absolutely understand the BBC has to save money these locations are relatively minuscule in cost to run compared to the bigger sites like in London and Salford.

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‘We also have concerns about equipment and facilities. I know the BBC will say lots of things can be done on an iPhone now but we are used to bringing people high quality reports.’

Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan also had concerns. In a tweet he said: ‘Disappointing that the BBC’s facilities at Gunwharf Quays are closing. Local media is a lifeline for many in Portsmouth. The BBC has always provided moments that make marks on our lives, yet the government are still finding ways to cut its vital funding.’

It comes after BBC News suspended plans to cut 450 jobs as part of a plan to meet an £80 million savings target by 2022.BBC director general Tony Hall recently said the corporation will need to save £125m this year, partly because of financial pressures resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.

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