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Launch - Campaign for Regional Broadcasting Midlands

26 October 2012

Campaign for Regional Broadcasting Midlands

Written by Tracey Briggs

As many of my fellow Midland based Equity members will know, our share of BBC production made for the national network has been on an ever-decreasing spiral since Pebble Mill closed in 2002.

Since 2008 I seem to have been involved with BBC campaign after campaign. First the Drama Village, then “Silver Street”, and last year BBC Birmingham’s Factual Unit. Now it feels like we are hanging on to a tiny amount of BBC television and radio drama production by our fingernails, and the few workers left at BBC Birmingham fear it may only be a matter of time before “The Archers” and daytime drama “Doctors” is moved elsewhere too.

Last November when it was announced that the Factual Unit would go from Birmingham, I sat down and wept and I felt like giving up, however during all the regular demonstrations on the steps of the Mailbox I had met a group of ordinary licence fee payers who felt as passionately about the BBC remaining in our region as I did. Even though these people don’t work in the entertainment industry they wouldn’t let me give up!!

We kept in touch, we exchanged emails and phone calls and a few weeks ago we met up in a coffee bar as a group of Midlands licence fee payers, and we united to form the “Campaign for Regional Broadcasting Midlands”.

We have now commenced  our first major co-ordinated campaign with a website and petition to the new Director General of the BBC.

I really hope that all my fellow Midlands Equity members will get behind this campaign by signing the petition, helping to spread the word and write to their MPs. Please also encourage any Midlands licence fee payers you know to do the same.

The petition makes some reasonable demands of the BBC regarding their commitment to the Midlands. These include:

  • The expansion of the ‘Drama Village’ and the creation of a ‘Centre of Excellence’ in Radio Drama
  • That ‘Doctors’, ‘The Archers’ and the ‘Asian Network’ remain in Birmingham
  • To work with independents to deliver more drama from the region and to allow the private sector to hire and use facilities at a reasonable rate
  • To seek and employ Midlands based talent both in front of and behind the camera and commission Midland based production companies
  • To commit to spend a sum commensurate with the size of our region on network drama and factual from both a revitalised in-house production department and with local independent producers

As my campaign buddy Mike Bradley said at our Open Central England Branch Meeting in September “Given the large-scale relocation of entire BBC departments to other cities we do not think that these requests are unreasonable. As a publicly funded organisation the BBC is obligated to reflect the importance of our region. The Midlands needs the support of the BBC but it should also be recognised that the BBC needs the support of the 10 million people who live in this region.”

I know in the past we have mostly been ignored as we have just not had a big enough collective co-ordinated voice, but now if it’s not just workers in the entertainment industry making a fuss, but many ordinary citizens who pay a licence fee and live in the Midlands region, maybe, just maybe, we can make a difference and we certainly can’t be ignored. After all 19% of the licence fee comes from our region and now less than 3% is being spent here.

Please visit the website to find out more and sign the petition.

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