Dear Editor, Readers of the Birmingham Post will be aware that the BBC management has put forward proposals that will see yet more cuts being made to the Corporation’s operation in Birmingham in 2012.
The Save BBC Birmingham campaign group has been formed to help fight the proposals and is a consortium of people who work at the Mailbox, broadcasting professionals, along with Midlands Licence Fee Payers.
We would like to invite Birmingham Post readers to fight for the region, too, by making views known to the public consultation that is being made by the BBC Trust. This is something we urge people to do if they have an interest in the economy of the Midlands, or a desire to ensure that we gain our fair share of representation and investment for the licence pay that we all have to pay.
The corporation raises some £300 million each year from the West Midlands alone and some £550 million from the Midlands as a whole and yet we are getting so much less in return than Scotland, Wales, London or the north west.
In the 50-page Delivering Quality First document, the Midlands and its 10 million people are reduced to one very short paragraph at the bottom of page 18. In this, the BBC says that despite the proposed cutbacks in factual programme making, Birmingham will remain the home for “substantial” drama. By that they mean one daytime ‘soap’ on TV and another on the radio. By any standards, these do not equate to anything that is even close to ‘substantial’.
Questions should be asked of the BBC management. For instance, why have they concentrated so much investment and programme making in one region – the north west – and proposed yet more cutbacks in another? Why have they favoured one location over another? Why must they be persuaded to retain a presence in the Midlands, rather than want to be here? Is it fair that licence payers in the Midlands should continue to pay the same fee as other areas when our representation is to be reduced yet further?
One thing is for sure, it is a peculiar situation we find ourselves in. Birmingham the most populated city outside of London. It is still the major manufacturing city in the regions and it is culturally diverse. Yet we are unique – we are the only second city in Europe that does not have a television studio, and the only one that is not home to a major production unit for its state broadcaster.
Something has gone wrong as far as broadcasting from the Midlands is concerned and at the very least, the brakes should be put on the current proposals to close the factual programme making unit at Birmingham. What is more, we want an expansion of the unit and of other types of programme making. We want better production facilities and at least one major studio. This is what is needed and what is right for the Midlands.
Tracey Briggs, Birmingham and Michael Bradley, Solihull.
Dear Editor, Monday December 5 saw the Royal Variety Performance take place at the Lowry in Salford, the first time it has moved out of London.
It is significant that it took place in the Manchester area. Like the recent Children in Need show, which also moved out of London to Manchester, it is clear that for the decision-makers, especially in the BBC, Manchester is now the second major area of operations, not Birmingham.
Birmingham is getting no major inward investment on the culture or sport front and with the TV companies having built Media City in their favoured Manchester location, this can only get worse.
Birmingham lost the City of Culture bid to Derry, which was no surprise. It lost the National Football centre to Wembley, despite Doug Ellis’s excellent campaign for it to come to Birmingham being backed by the majority of people polled across the country.
The era when a project like the National Exhibition Centre or the National Indoor Arena would be placed in Birmingham is clearly over. The powers that be have set their faces against locating anything big and prestigious in the city.
With the BBC, the decision to move production facilities out of the city to Bristol and Cardiff is so outrageous that it may be effectively challenged. Both the state and independent TV have effectively abandoned the second city, and this cannot be allowed to go unchallenged. However the wider neglect of the city will take a major effort to reverse. It would be sensible to start by campaigning for the Royal Variety Performance, and Children in Need, to be produced in the city the next time they move out of London.
Trevor Fisher, Stafford