Union officials say don’t be too sure BBC Look East Cambs service is safe

UNION officials have again raised the fear that the BBC Cambridge Look East opt out sequence may still be axed despite expectations that intervention by the Prime Minister had saved it.

NUJ national official Keith Murray said pressure by David Cameron on the BBC’s Director General Mark Thompson had created “at best a temporary stay of execution”.

Mr Murray said a letter from Mr Thompson to the Prime Minister made it clear “other decisions” may force the idea of closure back onto the table.

“It’s by no means a guarantee that BBC Cambridge TV has been saved,” said Mr Murray. “Also the BBC Trust has the authority to look at, and close, any BBC service.

“Due to management leaks, the idea of closing BBC Cambridge TV is now in the public domain so the BBC Trust members are well aware of it and could therefore decide to close it themselves.”

Mr Murray said sources had told him that the “price to pay” for keeping BBC Cambridge TV may be to remove the service from the digital satellite platforms, i.e. Sky and Freesat but keep it on Freeview.

“The digital satellite carriage costs are very expensive,” said Mr Murray. “If this idea comes to fruition then a significant portion of BBC Cambridge TV’s audience would be disenfranchised overnight. The viewing figures would be drastically reduced overnight.”

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Mr Murray said the BBC judges service on a cost per listener/viewer basis and if the viewing figures are drastically reduced because the service is no longer available on digital, then the cost per viewer “would go through the roof.

“This in turn would mean that in a couple of year’s time, the BBC could close the service because it’s far too expensive, all because it’s been taken off digital satellite.”