Midlands MPs call on BBC to increase TV and radio production in the region

Concern over “huge gap” between BBC’s income and spending in the Midlands. 

A cross party group of MPs are calling for a ‘fair share’ of BBC investment in the Midlands at a breakfast meeting with executives from the corporation today. Delivering a petition from the Campaign for Regional Broadcasting which has gathered over 4000 signatures of support, the MP’s will press the BBC to increase network TV and radio production in the region.

The petition follows the publication of a report which revealed that although Midlands provides the BBC with 25% of the total licence fee revenue, the region receives less than 2.5% of the corporation’s operational expenditure. In 2011 the BBC spent £391 million in the north, £699 million in the south and £5.65 billion in London and £100 million in Midlands.

The BBC has committed to increasing production output in the devolved Nations to 17% by 2017 and boosting its regional presence, recently shifting jobs to Bristol, Cardiff and MediaCity in Salford. But there has been a decline of production in the Midlands – most recently with the recent relocation of the BBC’s Factual Unit to Bristol.  The Midlands is now the only region in the UK without any network TV production.

MPs from the region, including Birmingham’s Richard Burden, Gisela Stuart and Steve McCabe who met with BBC Director General Lord Tony Hall earlier in the year, are calling on the BBC to commit to sustainable investment in the region. Mounting pressure on the corporation led Lord Hall to appoint the Director of BBC North Peter Salmon to investigate possibilities for investment in Birmingham in July.

Richard Burden MP said: “There is a huge gap between what people in the Midlands pay to the BBC and what is spent here.   We fully support the BBC and the licence fee, and we want to the Midlands to reap the social and economic benefits that come from the BBC’s presences. Producing more TV and radio shows in the Midlands will boost the local economy, support our wider creative industries, and provide job opportunities. We are simply calling for our fair share. ”

Gisela Stuart MP added: “Recent job losses have meant barely anything remains of BBC production in the Midlands. But there remains a huge amount of talent here, and production facilities which are going unused. Handing over the petition today is another step forward in our ongoing campaign to bring the BBC back to Birmingham and the Midlands.”

Steve McCabe MP also said: “The appointment of Peter Salmon to look at the future of the BBC in Birmingham was important, but we must keep the pressure on to ensure this increases BBC production in our region. While the corporation’s operational expenditure per licence fee payer is over £70 in the North and South, it now stands at just £16 in the Midlands.”

In response, Tracey Briggs from the Campaign for Regional Broadcasting said: I’m delighted that our elected representatives are  delivering our petition today. As a publicly funded organisation the BBC has an obligation to invest in the Midlands. It has been heartbreaking to see cutback after cutback to the BBC’s workforce in the Midlands region, and the talent drain has to stop. We now need a genuine commitment to jobs, production and commissioning in the Midlands region.”