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26/01/2010

Plans Will 'Refresh Radio Foyle'

Listeners in the North West of Northern Ireland will receive a 'refreshed' schedule on BBC Radio Foyle aimed at enhancing the impact and benefits of the station for audiences.
The plans, announced at the Nerve Centre in Derry, are also intended to develop the station's role as a production base for the BBC Northern Ireland–wide services while delivering value for money to licence fee payers.
The plans which are to be phased in over time include:
  • A morning peak-time Foyle Breakfast Show with a focus on news and speech
  • An extended lunchtime magazine programme in peak to include news at 1.00pm
  • An extension of local news bulletins beyond 4.00pm to 6.00pm
  • A new afternoon entertainment show
  • More NI radio content from Radio Foyle for BBC Radio Ulster including a new weekly Arts Extra programme and a Sunday afternoon music programme
  • More shared Radio Ulster and Radio Foyle content. Saturday Sportsound will now be available in the North West including better coverage of sports fixtures in the region
BBC Northern Ireland Director Peter Johnston, speaking to a cross-section of community representatives at the event, emphasised the continued importance of Radio Foyle to the region and the unique connection it has with its audiences.
He said BBC Northern Ireland was both proud of and fully committed to the service and its contribution to community and cultural life in the North West adding: "It remains our ambition to secure BBC Radio Foyle's future and to find ways of fully exploring its potential.
"That has always been our strategic intent. We have conducted a review of BBC Radio Foyle's output, informed by insights from audience research and have planned some developments to the current schedule which I am confident will better serve the audience," he said.
Proposals to evolve the schedule, particularly at peak-time, are said to enrich the listening experience for audiences without significantly reducing the number of hours of Radio Foyle output.
The changes do not affect the BBC's Service Licence commitments that Radio Foyle should broadcast at least eight hours of news and current affairs each week. It is also proposed to trial a six-month pilot to make Radio Foyle available on DAB on digital radio.
There will be no immediate announcement on changes to the presenter line-up but there will now begin a process of planning the right shape and character for the content.
Susan Lovell, Head of Radio for BBC Northern Ireland commented: "It makes sense to look at new ways of working and to use resources and technology in such a way that we address our audiences needs and make a greater impact with what we already do.
"We will remain audience-focused in making these changes and in minimising the impact on our staff."
It is expected there will be one to three net post closures in Radio Foyle, as part of BBC Northern Ireland's five-year Savings and Investment Plan which has already seen a total of 77 post closures across a number of other BBC Northern Ireland departments in Belfast, all of which have been achieved through redeployment or voluntary redundancy.
(BMcN/BMcC)
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