BBC Axe LGBT Programme

Publish Date: 25/06/2012

LGBT Citizen Manchester (also known as The Gay Hour) has been on the air in various guises since 1996 and has remained the BBC’s only regular local LGBT programme despite previous attempts to remove the show from the schedules a few years ago.

The programme is volunteer-run and regularly covers all the news and events that affect the lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans community on BBC Radio Manchester station on Monday evenings.

The programme is due to be replaced along with The BBC’s Jewish and Irish Citizen Manchester programmes with a syndicated programme called All Around England by December this year.

The All Around England programme will take the place of the three one-hour minority-interest programmes currently broadcast on Monday evenings in Manchester. However BBC Manchester's Black, Asian and Chinese community programmes will remain unaffected as they will still have a place in the local schedule

The BBC has said that issues affecting the LGBT and also Jewish and Irish communities will be covered by mainstream local programming.

Aziz Rashid Head of BBC North West told The Lesbian & Gay Foundation that the corporation remain committed to representing the LGBT community on BBC Radio Manchester but as with all public services the BBC face ‘difficult choices’.

“The BBC Trust has approved management proposals for a syndicated all-England programme from 7-10pm on weekdays. These proposals are now in the process of being implemented and will take effect from next year. However, this programme is not optional for BBC Local Radio Stations, it is a programme that all stations will be expected to run."

"The All-England programme will displace a number of very different programmes from BBC Local Radio schedules across our 39 stations – in  the North West that includes some 7 hours of Asian language programming, as well as some specialist music; some sports magazine programmes; and a number of other specific topic and general programmes including Jewish Citizen Manchester, 7-8 pm; Irish Citizen Manchester, 8-9 pm and LGBT Citizen Manchester, 9-10 pm on Monday evenings, which will cease transmission by the end of December 2012.”  

“I am afraid that there is simply not room in our schedules to move all of these programmes elsewhere.” Mr. Rashid continued. “When considering which programmes we could move and which we would regrettably have to lose, we considered our primary focus: journalism. We have taken the view that we can represent LGBT issues in our mainstream news programming." 

 Mr Rashid  added “We fully accept the need to reflect the views of all communities, including the LGBT community in Manchester.”

Pink News has reported that Liberal Democrat MP for Manchester Withington John Leech has tabled an Early Day Motion in Parliament saying the removal of such programming undermines the government’s commitment to localism and the future of local BBC radio itself.

Equality and Diversity Specialist and Campaigner Christine Burns has commented on the BBC’s decision “The problem with the argument that issues should be mainstreamed is that it doesn't work. It's rather like arguing that profoundly disabled children will do better by being placed in ordinary classes at school, with no special support or attention. It sounds laudable. And it expresses where all minorities would eventually aim to be. In the meantime, however, it doesn't deliver as promised.”

An open group has been set up on Facebook with latest news updates and discussion about the campaign to save Citizen Manchester LGBT from BBC cuts.

Please let us know your thoughts on The BBC's decision to axe it's only LGBT local radio show in the comments box below.

  • Gaby

    Gary - they would say they consulted. Of course the fact is that management recommendations to the BBC Trust were presented as a fait a compli without any mention of possible changes to specialist programmes even being really flagged up, discussed or debated inside or outside the BBC. It was all very low key. It's the law of self fulfilling prophecies which our media is so good at. Fact is this programme has always performed beyond its weight and with scandalously little promotion by the BBC. I've been listening for several years and it tackles all those issues that would never be tackled in mainstream programming, it talks peer to peer and dare I say it also tackles the issues that the LGBT community don't always like to tackle too ie prejudice within/betweenthe varying communities in the LGBT world. That's far too detailed and nuanced and complicated to get in a mainstream breakfast show. The programme also gives a real voice to the trans community without the stereotyping or voyeurism associated with much mainstream coverage. If enough MPs sign Mr Leech's motion or write to the BBC, this programme can be saved

  • Gary

    This stikes me as either being very short sighted or a step towards losing local BBC radio altogether. These specialist programmes are a part of many peoples lives - especially as not everyone wants to listen to commercial channels or watch TV of an evening. Without doubt the All-England programme will take a London slant and we will probably only hear the views of London based LGBTs and Jews who know little of the regions. Or, if it is based at Media City, will the whole country be fed a North West slant? Surely evenings is when local radio truly becomes of regional significance. Shame on the BBC for not even consulting us on this issue.