Chief minister's fears for BBC TV news in Jersey

BBC Channel Island news presenters Clare Burton, Gwyn Garfield-Bennett and Edward Sault
Image caption BBC Channel Islands News was launched in October 2000

Jersey's chief minister has written to the director general of the BBC to express his concern about the future of local television news in the island.

In May the BBC said it was considering whether to continue providing local TV news bulletins in the Channel Islands.

During question time in the States, Senator Terry Le Sueur said the future of BBC Channel Islands news was something ministers were worried about.

The BBC said no decisions had yet been taken.

"Ministers have discussed this issue and agree the withdrawal would limit local coverage of political and cultural events," Senator Le Sueur said.

'Financial pressure'

"I have written on behalf of the council of ministers to the director general of the BBC and the chairman of the BBC Trust expressing concern at the proposed closure of the TV service.

"The letters appeal to the BBC to rethink its savings proposals as it is important islanders have access to a diversity of news coverage."

In a statement, the BBC said any claims about the future of TV news in Jersey were "speculation".

During a visit to Jersey, the Chairman of the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee in the UK, John Whittingdale, said: "I understand that the BBC is under a lot of financial pressure - they have had a freeze in the licence fee for the next three years and they have also had to take on a lot of costly responsibilities.

"But my view has always been that the BBC is there to provide public service broadcasting and local news is at the core of public service broadcasting."

The BBC currently offers three television bulletins each weekday evening in the islands, at 6.30pm, 8.00pm and 10.25pm.

Seven members of staff work on the service at the BBC's premises in Jersey and another two television reporters are based at BBC Guernsey.

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