How will the BBC protect itself from the mad protesting brigade of foamers? They are highly organised and have networks barking out to letters pages in the Daily Mail, or screaming via the internet about how shocked and outraged they are.
Let me explain. Firstly, quite rightly, a lot of the BBC local radio stations occupy just one analogue broadcasting band, FM, and of course DAB. Virtually no BBC local radio station has a valid reason for duplicating its broadcasts on the AM band. The number of listeners on FM/DAB is negligible, the number listening via AM is almost undetectable. AM transmitters are extremely costly to run, and so as part of a cost cutting experiment, the BBC have removed regular programming from the pointless AM transmitters of BBC Radios Kent, Lincolnshire, Merseyside, and Nottingham.
Until September 24th the AM transmitters are carrying re-tuning advice, pointing listeners to FM, DAB and the webstreams, and then spending extended periods switched off.
Traditionally, the only time people have bothered to tune to AM is when a commentary has been made available to a local sporting event, such as a football match. In Merseyside the two main football teams, Liverpool and Everton, sometimes play at the same time, and so this is dealt with by having the commentary for one match on FM, and for the other on AM and DAB. Similar arrangements occur on the other stations.
However, it is outside of the commentary times that the duplication becomes pointless. Those that are listening, are choosing FM or DAB.
The BBC costs far too much money and has been told to cut down its expenditure. This is but one of the ideas. Another idea which I highly approve of is to greatly reduce the amount of pointless general music programming. It makes more sense to have just one national English programme outside of peak times, rather than loads of expensive to make local programming that nobody is listening to. I’ve talked about this before here.
But, how much real feedback will the AM transmitter switch-off truly get? The foamers will hijack the experiment with their shock and outrage campaigns. Bizarrely, they will use the internet and modern technology to campaign to save a technology that should have been switched off decades ago.