23 February 2013
Posted in TV
The Campaign for Regional Broadcasting Midlands launches in Birmingham
The BBC's Midland region raises a quarter of the BBC's £3.6 billion licence fee take, but only spends 2% of its income in the region. Expenditure per licence fee payer is £804 in London, £82 in the north of England, and just £12.30 in the Midlands.
These statistics were presented to 80 actors, writers, producers and other television makers crammed into a Birmingham pub to launch a campaign to insist that the BBC gives more back to the Midlands region.
Speakers at the meeting included Equity's Tracey Briggs and Writers' Guild President David Edgar. Along with BECTU, the Guild is officially supporting the campaign. The last Guild Executive Council meeting passed a motion supporting the Campaign for Regional Broadcasting's demand that more BBC production be brought back to Birmingham.
As Tracey Briggs and David Edgar pointed out, BBC Birmingham has a proud history in both television and radio drama, and not just in the 'golden age' of the 1970s, when David Rose was producing groundbreaking plays and films by David Rudkin, David Hare, Alan Bleasdale and Willy Russell. The Birmingham studios at Pebble Mill once produced 10% of BBC output.
Since the announcement of the move to Salford, BBC Birmingham has lost its pioneering factual unit to Bristol, the Silver St soap, and its last one-off drama producer. Its state of the art radio studio sits empty except for the few days a month of Archers recording. Its only television drama goes out on daytime TV.
Using BBC statistics, campaign chair Mike Bradley has calculated the huge disparity between what the BBC raises from the Midland region and what it spends. Nearly a third of what the BBC spends in London comes from the region. The aim of the campaign is to demand a fairer deal for the Midlands' television makers.
The campaign website has an online petition at www.crbmidlands.org.uk