I love the BBC. I really do. But it’s hard.

I’m a big BBC fan. But after years of disasters – Savile and company, expensive reorganisations, huge payoffs and London overspends, all paid for by you and me – it’s getting tough to feel good about Auntie.

That's before we get to a regional policy which ignores Midlands talent and exports jobs.

Local BBC centres used to be full of extraordinary people with immense craft skills, vision and talent, making great programmes. Maybe they still are, elsewhere.

But the BBC's Midlands creative centres have been demolished. Talent is forced to seek work elsewhere; our craft skills and wonderful facilities have gone.

There is no good reason to have done this to any BBC region, let alone the one with the largest number of licence fee payers in the UK.

And what hurts is the implication that the Beeb should now not even bother to look for talent in the region… or, worse, that they have simply decided there isn’t any.

After 20 years of cuts, BBC Midlands trails every other region.

Of each £144.50 licence fee, we get a measly £12.30 spent back in the region, compared to £82.87 in the North and £65.80 in the South. The rest heads south, to London. Because of its size, the Midlands region contributes more towards London BBC costs than Londoners do.

For the past year, the Campaign for Regional Broadcasting Midlands (CRBM) has lobbied for a rebalancing of regional funds. Parity with other English Regions is only right.

Local MPs understand: it would bring hundreds or thousands of local jobs. Gisela Stuart has lobbied hard and well. Local Councils have listened, bemoaned the lost revenue - and then done nothing.

Reaction at the BBC has been muted. Some training jobs - maybe 80 - will move to the region to fill a few of the hundreds of empty desks at the Mailbox.

They've just held auditions for local extras for Peaky Blinders 2 – still to be shot in Leeds. Peaky Blinders 1 brought nothing to the region save a location shoot fee for the Black Country Museum.

Series 2 will go a tiny step further, but, frankly, it's a low-cost PR touch, a drop in the ocean. There’s a long way to go before the region achieves parity with the North and the South - another £400 million a year.

There's blue-sky talk of partnerships. It’s the new way: third parties working for the BBC under its direction. But the result will not be a worthwhile rebirth of an independent production sector.

Rather, HE fund-grabbers and institutional snake-oil salesmen have been jostling for, and getting, the BBC’s attention, claiming miraculously deep knowledge of broadcasting techniques and fund-generation. Hmmm.

Peaky Blinders, set in Birmingham, was filmed mostly in Leeds
Peaky Blinders, set in Birmingham, was filmed mostly in Leeds
 

As Simon Woods wrote in the Post in November , Denmark, with a similar population to the Midlands (East and West), produces great work like The Killing, The Bridge and Borgen.

We produce hyper-low budget stuff: Doctors, WPC 56 and the odd daytime series like Father Brown.

This was a region that made brilliant radio for Radio 3, crafting specialist and mainstream output for Radios 1 and 2. We delivered fantastic documentaries, features, drama and comedy for Radio 4, tapping into great local writing and acting talent.

Now, a few specialist shows are made locally for Radio 2. To my knowledge, there are two national radio presenters in the region; their shows come from London and Salford.

And this matters to local musicians. Janice Long excepted, there is nobody at presenter or producer level at Radios 1, 1Xtra, 2, 3, 4 or 6music based in the region. So... who's going to spot you?

We've been told the Midlands region, and Birmingham in particular, is to become a digital hothouse. That's nice - except that digital is a tool, not an end in itself. It's not a substitute for content. But it sounds good and reads well in press releases.

I know there are good people at the Beeb, who recognise that all this is wrong and unacceptable. Fixing this will take time: you don’t reverse two decades of damage in a few months, nor can you turn back the clock.

But what we have now is disproportionate, unfair and it has done harm.

I still love the BBC. I will always side against attempts to reduce it's power and impact.

But, Auntie dear, you deny my region of a fair share of the huge amounts of licence money we pay you. You have destroyed the creative talent and production skills that we could call on.

You have snuffed out career potential and give no hope to new generations of local talent; and you see no reason to even address these issues in public.

You do make yourself hard to love.

  • Robin Valk has worked in radio since 1968 and started professionally as a rock DJ in the US. He was the first DJ hired at BRMB, going on air on launch day as their rock jock. He has since worked at Radio 2 at BBC Pebble Mill and has consulted at about 70 stations in the UK and Europe on programming and music software. He now teaches, DJs and makes documentaries and blogs about local radio at www.radiotogo.com