The BBC Trust has announced that it has instructed the BBC to look again at the review of local radio and its original proposals which would have had significant impact on local sports broadcasting.In his announcement, BBC Trust Chairman Lord Patten gave notice to the impact the proposals would have on Rugby League in particular and instructed the BBC to ensure “ways are found to continue to protect more specialist and distinctive local content out of peak.”He continued, “alongside local news and information, the evening and weekend schedules of many local radio stations carry unique or specialist local content that is of particular value to their audience – for instance sports coverage that has a particular resonance in a particular area such as Rugby League and football.”Specifically, the BBC Trust asked the BBC to review three key areas:To scale back plans for local radio to share programmes in the afternoon;To ensure that local stations have “an adequately staffed newsroom”; andTo protect specialist content outside peak times – for example local sports or specialist music shows.Since the BBC put forward its consultation, the RFL led the campaign on behalf of all sports alongside the All Party Parliamentary Rugby League Group to ensure that better solutions could be found. The RFL worked with other sports bodies and fans of Rugby League to respond to the consultation – which resulted in more submissions than ever before; the lion’s share of which came from Rugby League fans.On hearing the announcement, RFL Chairman Richard Lewis said: “This is excellent news for fans of all sports and particularly Rugby League which as a community-focused game would have been the worst hit if the BBC’s plans were implemented.“The sports output from BBC local radio stations is one of the defining qualities of a region and we are encouraged that the BBC Trust have listened to the voice of local people and have decided to re-think their proposals. I want to thank the Members of Parliament in the All Party Parliamentary Rugby League Group and all those that took the time to write to the BBC. The voice of Rugby League fans has obviously made a huge difference.“We recognise the difficult situation the BBC faces and appreciate it has to make tough choices, however this review gives us the opportunity to consider other options and I look forward to the RFL and the BBC working together to find a more pragmatic solution.”
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The majority of the players are now back in training with just the club’s England contingent to return.“I’m confident with the squad,” the head coach said. “I’m really happy with the new players we have brought in and the younger players who have benefited from the experience they got last season.“Danny Richardson had his first full season in Super League and then you have Matty Lees and Jack Ashworth plus the likes of Morgan Knowles and Regan Grace who are still young too.“The young guys got plenty of game time last year and contributed. That will help us this year.”Holbrook reported that James Roby had surgery on his shoulder in the off-season but is back and in full training.Alex Walmsley is also taking part in pre-season and will have a scan on his neck next week.“Officially, it is similar from our last update,” he continued. “Alex has to get enough bone regrowth to be able to play and he gets a scan and sees a specialist next week. In training he is doing everything asked of him; he is just waiting for the green light to play.“Pre-season is going well and we’re almost back together. Theo (Fages) came in this week and Joseph Paulo has also come in. The England players are due in next Monday.“We started last season really well so there will be a similar build up this time around. It’s about individuals getting to where we want them to be before the team comes together.“The new players coming in will alter how we play slightly but we won’t throw everything out of the window. We won 26 from 30 last season but, with that in mind, we don’t want to do the same as we don’t want the same outcome.“It wasn’t a frustrating season, just disappointing in the end. We had two completely different exits from competitions we wanted to win.“We had won a lot of games before that semi-final with Catalan but we got ambushed. In the other semi-final, there wasn’t a lot in the game. We were leading with five minutes to go so it was disappointing we couldn’t hang on and get it done.”He continues: “It’s early days but I’m excited to see how the season will pan out. You can’t imagine Leeds not being thereabouts and I thought Warrington were really strong last year. Wigan won the comp and then you have Hull, Cas and Catalans too. Everyone looks really strong.“There have been some big signings at some clubs too so I’m expecting it to be another good season.”Tickets for all Saints 2019 Betfred Super League home games – including the blockbusting opener against Wigan on January 31 – are now on sale.You can get yours by calling into the Ticket Office, tel: 01744 455 052 or online here.