Concerns for TV news coverage in Bedford as BBC closes Cambridge news desk

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BBC Look East West title card Image-BBC
Image: BBC

Concerns have been raised about TV news coverage in Bedford and the surrounding area after the BBC announced it is closing its news desk in Cambridge.

Look East currently broadcasts two versions. One from Cambridge which covers Bedford and the West of the region, and one from Norwich which covers the East.

These will now be merged and one broadcast will be made covering the entire area, which it’s feared will ‘water down’ the coverage for local people.

Bedford and Kempston MP, Mohammad Yasin (Labour), has reiterated that “local journalism is vital for communities and democracy”.

Cambridge MP Daniel Zeichner (Labour) told the media the decision is “a step backwards”.

However, neither Richard Fuller, (North East Bedfordshire, Conservative) nor Nadine Dorries Mp (Mid-Bedfordshire, Conservative), who is secretary of state for media has commented.

Local journalism is vital

“Local journalism is vital for communities and democracy, so any dilution of that will be a big loss for Bedfordshire,” continued Mr Yasin.

“However, we have a Government that is gunning for our brilliant publicly owned media institutions like the BBC and Channel 4.

“The BBC will be making savings because of funding cuts. If the Government is serious about levelling up, they should be investing in regional journalism, not closing it down.”

Despite the closure of Cambridge, a BBC spokesperson says it is “really proud of our Look East service from Cambridge”.

It’s not yet known if any jobs locally are at risk due to the closure, however, up to 1,000 jobs could be axed as the BBC also cuts national channels and other regional news desks over the next few years.

Will we no longer see BBC TV cameras in Bedford?

“Digital first”

The BBC will also be moving CBBC and BBC Four to online-only, to spearhead its “digital first” approach.

A BBC spokesperson said, “At this time we need to make tough choices as we change our services in line with audience needs.

“Our aim is to serve our audiences more comprehensively across Radio, Television and our Digital Services.”

The move is thought to be connected to recent comments by Nadine Dorries, who is Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, calling for the BBC to become more diverse.

In a previous comment to the media, she called the BBC “a world-class broadcaster” but that the Government is committed to “ensuring the BBC is more impartial, more accessible and more reflective of our country’s variety of viewpoints”.

Ms Dorries, however, has not responded today to questions from local media, such as the Bedford Independent, to address concerns her constituents have about the impact these changes will have on BBC news coverage of their area.

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