My MP is asking questions about radio.

Only twice in my lifetime have I written to an MP asking for help. The first time was more than thirty years ago. I was living in Glasgow and a family member had asked me to join a campaign concerning the availability of a specific medication on the NHS. I wrote a letter to my MP, sent it to the House of Commons and waited for a reply. It never came.  Cynics told me I had wasted the price of a stamp.
The second occasion was just last week when I emailed my constituency MP, Drew Hendry and asked him to help get some answers about Ofcom’s decision to allow commercial radio owners to drastically reduce local content on local radio stations. I was pleasantly surprised to receive a response within a few days and my MP told me he shared my concerns has promised to write to the relevant Government Minister.
Yes, I know I’m becoming something of a stuck record with this issue, but only yesterday my social media timelines were full of heartfelt farewell messages from local radio presenters at Global’s Heart stations in England. These messages were greeted by shocked and angry replies from listeners, many of whom seemed unaware that these changes were in the pipeline.
And, you know, that’s one of the many odd things about this whole sorry situation. Seismic changes to the nature of local radio across the U.K. have received very little attention in the press and, as a result, the demise of local voices, the closure of studios and the creation, by stealth, of national commercial radio stations, seems to have surprised audiences up and down the country.
And not just audiences. On Thursday night, I was back at BBC Scotland’s H.Q. in Glasgow for the retirement party of a former colleague. It was a chance to catch up with old friends and hear about the success of BBC Scotland’s new TV channel and plans for the future of Radio Scotland. BBC people tend to live in their own bubble of internal politics and insecurity. I can say that, because I was a bubble denizen myself for 25 years. News of changes in the commercial radio world had only been noticed by one or two colleagues and so I found myself explaining the issue and , again and again, watching the baffled reactions and hearing the same question:
“But why has Ofcom allowed this to happen?”
Why indeed. It’s the question that has been posed by the Scottish Parliament and by members of the House of Lords. So far the answers have been unconvincing and have raised further questions about the transparency of the whole decision-making process by the very regulator charged with protecting the interest of the listeners.
Now, thanks to the efforts of Nick Osborne and his Local Radio Group campaign, questions are being asked by Westminster MPs. I emailed mine and got a swift reply. Try it for yourself. It won’t even cost you the price of a stamp.

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