BBC In Touch to be cut to 15 minutes from April

The RNIB has criticised the “retrograde step” and questioned whether the BBC is standing by its obligation to provide content for all audiences, including those with sight loss

A microphone is displayed in a dimly lit professional recording studio

The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) has criticised the BBC’s decision to cut Radio 4’s In Touch to 15 minutes from April.  

The weekly programme, which covers issues related to people living with sight loss, currently has a 20-minute time slot.

It has been hosted by broadcaster Peter White, who has been blind since birth, since 1974.

Anna Tylor, the RNIB’s chair of trustees, said she is “immensely saddened to witness the diminishing airtime of a much-valued programme at a time when more than two million people are living with sight loss in the UK.”

The change is part of a wider schedule shake-up.

BBC Radio 4’s Feedback programme has been in touch with the RNIB to note listeners’ concerns that the public service broadcaster is reneging on its commitment to provide content for disabled people and people with low or no vision, the charity said.

The RNIB called the BBC’s decision to cut In Touch’s running time by 25% “a retrograde step.”

Tylor emphasised that the number of people living with sight loss in the UK is set to double by 2050.

“The need for high-quality disability-focused broadcast programming is growing. The BBC clearly isn’t responding to this growing need,” she said.

She added: “This is a retrograde step and one that worryingly marks the watering down of the BBC’s Charter obligations, such as providing content for all audiences, including older, digitally excluded people with sight loss, many of whom rely on the radio for information. We urge the BBC to reconsider this decision.”

BBC In Touch attended and reported on Westminster Eye Health Day 2023. Listen to the coverage here.