One of the BBC’s longest-serving journalists has hit out over the corporation’s “broken promise” to Birmingham when it closed Pebble Mill a decade ago.
Lincoln Shaw spent 30 years working for the BBC in Birmingham, rising to the role of managing editor of regional television, and still reports for Radio Devon.
The 90-year-old said he supports campaigners claiming families in the Midlands were subsidising the corporation and not getting the return they were entitled to.
Midland licence fee-payers put £942 million into the BBC last year and saw just 8.5 per cent reinvested in the region. Every other UK region sees about 50 per cent or more reinvested.
Mr Shaw, who has worked for the corporation across six decades, said he felt Birmingham was sold a lie when the BBC closed its Pebble Mill studios in 2004 – but ultimately a move to the Mailbox killed production in the region.
Today, the Midlands is the only UK region without a network television production studio – despite contributing more than a quarter of the BBC’s licence fee income.
Mr Shaw said: “I think this is a scandal, I really do. When they closed Pebble Mill, which in my opinion was a huge mistake, they were going to develop in Birmingham city centre, but they never really did. It was a ridiculous decision, looking back.”
Mr Shaw also served as a reporter and later Midland news editor during his time in Birmingham .
He started off at the broadcaster’s now-closed Broad Street offices, after beginning his career as a local newspaper journalist, and went on to work in various roles, including on Midlands Today.
He later moved to the South West, planning to wind down his career, but three decades on still files for Radio Devon.
Mr Shaw worked at Pebble Mill when it opened in 1971 and was part of a large team which produced television and radio throughout the country.
Today, the BBC makes no prime-time television in the Midlands, nor anything on BBC2, BBC3, Radio One, Two, Three or Five.
Mr Shaw believes Birmingham was sold a bright message about the future of television and radio when Pebble Mill closed in 2004, for the headquarters to be moved to the Mailbox.
However, since then, production of series like Countryfile and Coast have been shifted to Bristol and less television than ever is made here.
Mr Shaw said licence fee-payers in the Midlands should expect a return on their spending.
He said: “I think the Midlands has lost out terribly in recent years. With the sort of promises made when Pebble Mill was closed and how it ended out, it is hardly surprising Brummies are so angry.
“I think if Midland people subsidise a certain amount of the BBC then they should be entitled to see that coming back.”
The Post is campaigning for the BBC to re-invest at least 50 per cent of the licence fee money raised in this region.
That would mean investment would have to increase more than five-fold, to £470 million.
A BBC spokesman said the broadcaster was investing £23.5 million to move 200 jobs to Birmingham, including at HR operation the BBC Academy.
He added: “It’s crucial that we produce programmes and services that reflect the whole region properly and 78 per cent of people in the West Midlands say they approve of the BBC. We’re clear that BBC Birmingham will be a strong, vibrant, and sustainable base, fit for the future in a fast changing media landscape.”