Updated: Friday, 24th October 2014 @ 7:04pm

‘No room in the schedule’: BBC to axe LGBT Citizen radio programme in favour of new content

‘No room in the schedule’: BBC to axe LGBT Citizen radio programme in favour of new content

By Hannah Hulme

The BBC have announced they will axe their only regular local programme that covers lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans community news and events.

LGBT Citizen Manchester, also known as The Gay Hour, has been on air since 1996 and will be dropped in favour of a syndicated broadcast, All Around England

The programme is currently run by volunteers on Monday evenings and is due to be replaced along with The BBC’s Jewish and Irish Citizen Manchester.

BBC Manchester’s Black, Asian and Chinese community programmes will remain unaffected and will still have a place in the local schedule.

Aziz Rashid, BBC North West, told the Lesbian and Gay Foundation: “I am afraid that there is simply not room in our schedules to move all of these programmes elsewhere.”

Mr. Rashid added: “We have taken the view that we can represent LGBT issues in our mainstream news programming." 

But many gay rights activists have protested the BBC’s decision.

Equality and Diversity Specialist, Christine Burns, said: “Broadcasters like the BBC may think they are delivering equality.

“Yet they are achieving the exact reverse, because the minority audiences (be they Asian, Jewish, Irish, Chinese, lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender) get little information about issues that concern them.”

The BBC u-turned on plans to cancel the programme in 2006.

“It was plain that the intended policy of covering LGBT issues in the mainstream simply wasn't sufficient,” said Ms Burns.

Lib Dem MP for Withington, John Leech, spoke on the topic in Parliament earlier this month.

Speaking to MM, he said: “I have been trying to urge the BBC to reconsider their decision to axe the shows.”

“The programme is run on a shoestring by volunteers so it seems to be a scheduling issue, not financial.”

Mr Leech believes that despite his efforts and efforts of campaigners, it is unlikely that the BBC will reconsider.

“The response we have received has not been promising, I must admit,” he said.

“We need to pile on the pressure. The more pressure applied, the more likely they will change their minds.”

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