Workers at the BBC’s Asian Network in Birmingham strike next week after accusing the broadcaster of turning its back on the city.
Mailbox staff have been angered by shows being moved out of Birmingham, following the likes of Coast, Countryfile and Hairy Bikers, which are all no longer produced in the city.
National Union of Journalists (NUJ) members will walk out for 24 hours next Wednesday, August 19, in protest sparked after the popular Bobby Friction show was moved to London.
Keith Murray, BBC representative for the National Union of Journalists, said: “They have ripped the heart out of the Mailbox. The Asian Network was cut in half three years ago and we were told that was all the savings needed and then they come back and say they are moving the Bobby Friction show.
“They don’t need to do this. There is also an editor job going, also being moved to London. This is all part of the running down of the BBC operation in the second city.”
The strike action followed a short silent protest which took place at the Asian Network on Wednesday, August 12.
While hundreds of jobs, largely in HR, have been shifted to the Mailbox, the BBC has shown little sign of increasing production in the region, which has fallen to new lows since the closure of Pebble Mill.
The industrial action comes amid rising pressure on the BBC to spend more in the region after it reinvested just £12.40 for every £145.50 licence fee collected in the Midlands last year.
No prime-time television is produced in the Midlands – an area with a population equivalent to the Netherlands – despite licence fee payers in the region investing more than £942 million a year into the BBC.
The new largely back office roles will see BBC investment in the Midlands rise to £125 million a year before 2016. However, that would be a return of about 13 per cent on the region’s investment in the broadcaster – compared to 84 per cent in Wales, 61 per cent in Scotland and 55 per cent in the North.
Media and entertainment trade union BECTU’s assistant general secretary Luke Crawley said while his members at the Mailbox were not part of the action, they supported it.
He said: “We were involved in the discussions about the Asian Network last year and we were against the BBC’s plans.
“The BBC are taking programme-making away from Birmingham, despite collecting hundreds of millions of pounds from licence fees every year. They should be making television programmes in the Midlands – and more than just Doctors.”
He added: “Our members agree with the NUJ that the BBC should be spending a lot more money in the Midlands.
“However, BECTU members don’t feel able to take part in industrial action, but they will do everything to support their colleagues in the NUJ.”
A BBC spokesperson said: "One Asian Network programme is moving to London following a staff restructure, prompted by ongoing efficiency savings.
"However, the station still broadcasts much of its output from Birmingham. So, it's wrong to suggest the BBC is turning its back on Birmingham when we're also spending twice as much in the Midlands now as we were two years ago - in difficult economic times - and moving 300 jobs to the city.
"As has been reported many times in the Post, we do make network programmes here, such as The Archers, Doctors, Father Brown and Home Front and have a clear commitment to the region. However, licence fee payers expect the BBC to be run efficiently."