The Culture Secretary has reiterated the Government’s promise to address the BBC’s regional spending as demands to stop ignoring the Midlands persist.
John Whittingdale, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, pledged to address regional provision in debates over the BBC’s next ten-year charter.
The broadcaster has come in for fierce criticism for making no prime-time television in the Midlands and spending more than £9 out of every £10 raised through licence fees in this region in London. In a letter to Sutton Coldfield MP Andrew Mitchell, Mr Whittingdale pledged the Government would tackle the BBC’s regional spending.
It stated: “As you will be aware, at the recent debate in Westminster Hall about BBC investment in the Midlands, the Minister for Culture and the Digital Econony, Ed Vaizey MP, further clarified that regional provision was one of the many issues that the charter review will cover.”
Dozens of Midland MPs have lobbied for a major change in investment in this region. While every other BBC region sees about 50 per cent or more of its licence fee spend reinvested locally, in the Midlands that figure was just 8.5 per cent last year.
Meanwhile, BBC North’s Peter Salmon, who is standing down from head of BBC England to lead BBC Studios, admitted independent production remained clustered around London.
Mr Salmon said with a few exceptions, most big independent production companies were still clustered in London because that was where the commissioners are.
He added: “If Channel 4 were in Birmingham or Manchester there would be, I bet you as much money as you like, a huge and thriving indie sector located nearby.”