Prominent Birmingham historian Carl Chinn is in the frame for a new job – as a local TV presenter.
Chinn, one of the best known public faces in the city, has held talks with MADE in Birmingham, one of four bidders aiming for a local TV franchise serving the Midlands capital.
Bosses at MADE in Birmingham, one of 12 proposed stations under the MADE Television banner, want Prof Chinn to present live debates and other programmes as a key part of their output if their bid for the Birmingham licence succeeds.
The station chief selected to run the Birmingham operation is Peter Brookes, former news editor at Central TV and managing director of Manchester United TV for more than seven years.
Mr Brookes, 56, revealed MADE in Birmingham’s aims and ambitions for city viewers, as the clock ticks towards a decision on the Birmingham licence by the autumn.
Three other bidders, YourTV, with national sports broadcaster Gary Newbon and former BRMB programme controller Mike Owen at the helm, City TV, spearheaded by former Birmingham City Council public relations executive Debra Davis, and Aston-based Sikh Channel, owned by Davinder Singh Bal, have already thrown their hats in the ring.
The government-backed initiative is backed by £25 million of BBC money towards infrastructure costs and a BBC content purchasing fund of £5 million per year split between licensees for the first three years.
Mr Brookes said: “The fact that the Government are backing this project with BBC money is very interesting. Previous attempts have been privately funded,” he said.
“BBC Midlands Today has a region that stretches from Stoke-on-Trent to Gloucestershire.
‘‘As for Central Tonight, people in Birmingham are being asked to watch stories about Lincolnshire when they have no interest in Lincolnshire. Because of the vast region they have to cover, it is almost an impossible task.
“Rather than regional coverage, this is all about local, local, local. We will not cover Stoke or Coventry if the stories are not relevant to Birmingham. Our bid is based on local TV for Birmingham for the people of Birmingham.”
He saw Chinn as a prize asset for the station – and revealed former Central TV presenter Llewela Bailey was also in the running for a role at MADE in Birmingham.
“Carl Chinn is Mr Birmingham. He is the best-loved historian in the whole of the Midlands. I would see him as an intrinsic part of any Birmingham television station and we are very happy that he has agreed to be a presenter on some of our programmes.
"We are going to do a weekly one-hour live debate which Carl will present. I cannot think of anybody better to stir up local passions.
‘‘Llewela Bailey is also a well-known face – we are having detailed discussions about her joining.”
Prof Chinn said: “If Birmingham is to become a major player on the national stage in the 21st century, we have to increase the media presence in the city.
“We have the Mail and the Post but the BBC and ITV presence are no longer as strong as they once were. With the BBC presence at Salford and in London, we need to make sure that Birmingham stands up for itself.”
The MADE Television bid is being backed by a number of investors, including independent financial advisory firm Key Capital, video solutions firm kitdigital and media systems integration company ioko. Mr Brookes added: “I have seen the numbers here and these are serious investors.”
Birmingham is among 21 sites earmarked for local TV, with the concept heavily endorsed by the Government and Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt.
The first batch of new stations are planned to be up and running by 2013.