BBC Oxford TV is under threat as managers meet today to discuss shutting down the Banbury Road operation and moving it to Southampton.

The cost-cutting plan, unveiled to staff on Monday, would see the county lose its dedicated news bulletins and threatens almost 20 jobs, the Oxford Mail understands.

An expanded BBC South Today programme could be screened instead in a move which critics last night warned would be detrimental for news coverage in Oxfordshire.

Such a move would be similar to ITV’s restructuring of local news two years ago. Then Abingdon-based Thames Valley Tonight was closed and replaced by Southampton-based Meridian Tonight.

The BBC change comes with the corporation also looking at replacing much of its local radio programmes – apart from the breakfast and drive-time shows – with content from national news and sport station, BBC Radio 5 Live.

There are 22 staff working on the television bulletins in Oxford – and one insider forecast it may become a ‘district office’ staffed by about three people. Among those whose jobs could be under threat are presenters Geraldine Peers, below, and Jerome Sale.

Managers meeting in Reading today are discussing cutting three regional news outlets – Oxford, Cambridge and the Channel Islands.

It is decided to make it a formal proposal today it will then go to the BBC Trust for further discussion.

The closure, were it to go ahead, would come into effect in about a year.

The idea stems from the BBC’s commitment to cut 20 per cent of its costs following the decision to freeze the TV licence fee for five years.

One BBC insider said: “The feeling is that it is more likely to happen than not. They would not have given such unsettling news to people unless you have got no choice but to tell them.

“A lot of people would say because of the ITV move it is the wrong time for the BBC to pull out as well.”

Anna Wagstaff, secretary of the Oxford and District branch of the National Union of Journalists, said: “We shall fight this all the way and shall be calling on councillors and MPs to support us.

“The BBC local TV news goes well beyond commercial issues. It performs a public service role here that people really value and love.

“Its extraordinary that the BBC should even consider closing it.”

She added that if the plan went ahead, the BBC Oxford audience would lose a service they had enjoyed for 10 years. Before that the regional programme, Newsroom South East, was had little content from Oxford.

BBC Oxford TV puts out local news five days a week at 3pm, 6.30pm and 10.25pm. Its 6.30pm flagship programme has an audience share of 32.5 per cent, or more than 300,000 of the potential one million viewers it could reach.

Viewing figures have been stable in recent years.

Currently the first 10 minutes of the 6.30pm local TV broadcast Monday to Thursday comes from Oxford and the rest from Southampton, with all the programme coming from Oxford on Fridays. All the 10.25pm programmes on Monday to Friday are broadcast from Oxford.

BBC spokesman Kate Buxton said: “No decisions have yet been made and therefore any reports are speculation. What we have made clear is that local, regional and national services will continue to be at the heart of what we do.

“Any decisions coming out of the process would be subject to approval by the BBC Trust.”

The BBC refused to comment on estimates it had cost £18m on the current broadcasting set-up in Oxford, or how much the closing of BBC Oxford TV news would save.