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The Dorset Broadcasting Action Group (DorBAG) is Chaired by Oliver Letwin MP with an Executive Committee comprising county, borough, district, town and parish council representatives, Dorset WI, Dorset CLA, Dorset Chamber of Commerce plus some other group representatives & experts. DorBAG\'s ultimate aims are  to achieve a fair and reasonable service, from the BBC in particular, for the County of Dorset.   The BBC freely admits that Dorset is ‘underserved’ despite no discount on our licence fee!  But it has not solved the lack of a county-wide radio station, nor the fact that residents in Dorset receive so-called "local" news from three different TV stations, depending on which part of the county they live in, with in most cases, little or no cover of Dorset.   In fact the BBC is treating Dorset with total disdain and seems to have no intention of resolving the problems to the residents' satisfaction. 

DorBAG is concerned at the poor quality and low level of service on both Terrestrial Television (Freeview) and on Radio (FM & DAB).  In addition, the committee has worked closely, especially with Digital UK, to address issues particularly relating to Freeview Television reception, with a focus on switchover to digital.   This started, depending on where you live, in the spring of 2009 and is now complete.    

DorBAG continues to push hard for Dorset to be provided with proper local news and events coverage on both terrestrial Television and on Radio. 

FM Radio:  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(!?), and was replaced by an opt-out from Radio Solent as the DCC claimed the county looked east and not west!?   Anyone who can manage to listen to Solent will know that, despite their promises, we did not get anything like the promised "25 hours of dedicated news and events coverage" and nor do we get "85% coverage"!  In fact, Solent ran the programme down to amost nothing.    

In January 2006, Andy Griffee, the then Head of English Regions, announced a new plan to launch a proper  Dorset FM Radio station.   However, once again, 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, not counting the appalling wasts of millions of pounds we read about in the press!).    Concerningly, the BBC management claim that they have absolutely no records of this plan which was discussed at many DorBAG meetings - we even have e-mails on various details of the plan sent by BBC management.   It leaves one concerned as to whether we have been just led along without any real plans in place?

In January 2008, Andy Griffee announced that Dorset, because of the disappointment at the cancellation of Radio Dorset, would be given 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 and not Radio Devon.   (Are you still with us???).   

This new plan excludes any modification to the Bincombe transmitter!   [It is critical that Dorset does have a county wide radio on FM (we don\'t have a single station covering the whole county today) if only to broadcast information on major emergencies and disasters.]   The BBC Trust ran an ONLINE public consultancy on Local Radio - with radical proposals to limit all local radio broadcasts but, based on the strong feedback they received, we understand their proposals were largely and strongly opposed - see "Latest News".

 The good news is that following the appointment of Jason Horton as Head of BBC South, things changed.  Firstly, they launched the "Big Breakfast Brunch" on a Saturday morning launched in July 2009 as an opt-out from Radio Solent and broadcast from the Bincombe Hill transmitter on FM.    Unfortunately, this means it only reaches part of central/sounth Dorset!   And in the summer of 2013, they launched a Breakfast programme from 6:30 to 09:00 each weekday.   A new team in Dorcester's upgraded and expanded studio does the research and runs the programme - still on 103.8FM.

Television:  The BBC has advised that, for television, transmitting local news and events coverage for the county is still not possible, even after switchover to Digital Terrestrial Television.   

In the meantime, the BBC has encouraged the present regional services (BBC Spotlight from Plymouth, BBC South in Southampton and Points West in Bristol) to cover more items on Dorset in their local news.  Although Plymouth and Southampton have made a marked improvement, we still get minimal coverage in the county as we are not their prime audience, which is totally unsatisfactory - and what is worse is that, depending on where you live in the county, you can only see that local news broadcast from that particular region\'s transmitter.   There are no means (today) to view the combined total news from all regions in one programme.  Hence, our main thrust was to persuade the BBC to ensure the county has adequate newsgathering resources and proper services by:

N.B We have emphasised to the BBC that, while their additional services on the internet are very welcome, they are no substitute for the majority of residents who still rely on radios and televisions for their news, information and entertainment.   Nevertheless, we continue to work with the BBC on their Internet developments for the county, as it is obviously the way broadcasters (and others e.g. press) are moving with an eye to the future.  



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