IF YOU HAVE ANY PROBLEMS OR ISSUES WITH TELEVISION OR RADIO IN ANY PART OF DORSET

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ALL ASPECTS OF DIGITAL TELEVISION -  FM RADIO – DAB – SUPERFAST BROADBAND

& ESPECIALLY LOCAL DORSET NEWS & EVENTS COVERAGE ON ALL MEDIA

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Picture: From The Dorset Page 

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 full Local Radio station and combined local news on Terrestrial Television (Freeview) for the whole County of Dorset.   This means actually covering the geographic county such that everyone can receive them!    The BBC freely admitted that Dorset was ‘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.   This, despite the fact that other counties nearby all have a full local radio station, e.g. Cornwall, Devon, Somerset, Wiltshire, Hampshire etc.   And several counties have similar populations as Dorset!   So why have we been excluded?? 

The BBC has treated Dorset with total disdain and seemed to have no intention of resolving the problems to the residents' satisfaction.   

FIRST SUCCESS:  The good news is that, following the appointment of Jason Horton as Head of BBC South, things changed.  Firstly, they actually launched the "Big Breakfast Brunch programme" on a Saturday morning in July 2009 - as an opt-out from BBC Radio Solent.   It is broadcast from the Bincombe Hill transmitter on FM (103.8FM).    

 In addition, in July 2013, they launched a Breakfast programme from 06:30 to 09:00 each weekday.   A new team was established in Dorchester's upgraded and expanded studio to produce the programme.

This new plan presently excludes any modification to the Bincombe transmitter!   Thus, sadly, these programmes only reach parts of Central and South Dorset due to the limited range of the transmitter.    

It is critical that Dorset does have a county wide radio on FM - without a single station covering the whole county, they can’t broadcast information on major emergencies and disasters!  

More positive news - we are told that they will be adding the local breakfast radio programmes to their online web site (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/england/dorset). In addition, the breakfast programme will be also available on Freeview.   Both are due in 2014!  This will enable listeners across the county to hear it, until such time (hopefully) the radio coverage covers the county!

New hope:   However, the BBC has recently advised that, provided the forthcoming BBC Charter Review (due 2015/2016) does not prevent it, they plan to upgrade the programme for a full day, albeit shared with Radio Solent, and very importantly, with upgraded transmitter(s) to reach all of the county.   This is very welcome news, but it will be two or three years before it happens.

DorBAG still presses for the County of Dorset to be folded under one BBC Region, which would have full responsibility for the whole county (presently we are officially shared between three BBC Regions – albeit only BBC South and BBC South West seem to do so!).   This could then pave the way for full coverage of the county with one local news – just for Dorset on Freeview!

Rest assured that DorBAG will continue to push hard for Dorset to be provided with proper local news and events coverage on both terrestrial Television and on Radio. 

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The history of the BBC messing Dorset about is horrific!  

1990:  A county-wide station was planned for early 1990, but was cancelled that year!   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, County wide,  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 waste 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 had 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???).   

 

The BBC Trust ran an ONLINE public consultation on BBC 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".  DorBAG’s lobbying at the time of the consultation must surely have influenced the Trust to approve Jason Horton’s bid for the above new programme.

 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 from Points West in the north of the county as we are not their prime audience. This 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 is to persuade the BBC to ensure the county has adequate newsgathering resources and proper services by:

Building up a full team of people with an editor in charge, responsible for all Dorset news  & event submissions, facilities, staffing, recruitment etc.   This has been done, at least for a part-time breakfast show.

Providing a new up to-date studio in Dorchester with space to accomodate additional staff - again, this has been achieved (as above)

Adding a new radio and TV transmitter in the county, or providing a suitable alternative method to enable one transmission to reach all of Dorset  - essential but still no sign of this.

Reinstating “BBC Radio Dorset” as an additional radio station to BBC Radio Solent with full coverage of the county - we are part-way on this.

 

DorBAG continues to press, not only for our own 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.  

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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