Dear Lord Hall, Mr Salmon and Ms Fairhead,
Thank you for your letters in response to our calls for a more equitable distribution of the BBC’s budget to the Midlands region.
We thank you for setting out your present drama output, Doctors, WPC56 and The Archers and so on, and some of the more recent investments, moving the BBC Academy to Birmingham and some more digital work in Digbeth.
However, none of this will make a dent in the central tenet of our campaign, namely that in the Midlands – which provides you with more than a quarter of your income – you spend just £12.40 per licence fee-payer, which is a fifth of the spend in any other region and a 60th of the investment level in London.
In none of your responses have you answered the central point of our campaign head-on: What – precisely – are you going to do to ensure the BBC returns to Midlands licence-payers a level of investment in the region that is more in proportion to the money you take from them?
To what extent do the activities you signal move the spend per licence payer from £80 million, as it was last year, to £470 million, which it would have been if you invested in the Midlands as you do the other UK regions?
If you can’t answer these two simple questions, the only conclusion that remains is the BBC believes it is entirely acceptable to take almost 12 times the money from this region that it spends here and it is perfectly happy to see this situation continue for the foreseeable future.
If it is indeed the case the BBC proposes to extract more than £9 billion from the people of the Midlands over the next ten years to pay for jobs, programmes and facilities in other parts of the country at the expense of investment here, we have no choice but to oppose the renewal of the BBC charter.
We cannot sit back and see legislation give justification to the continued extortion of money from hard-pressed Midland licence-payers.
Stacey Barnfield, editor, Birmingham Post
Marc Reeves, editor-in-chief, Birmingham Mail