Birmingham & Black Country

MPs call for more BBC investment in the Midlands

Inside the newsroom at BBC Birmingham
Image caption BBC Birmingham has been based at The Mailbox since 2004

A cross-party group of MPs is calling for more BBC investment in the Midlands.

The group has handed BBC bosses a petition from the Campaign for Regional Broadcasting with more than 4,000 signatures of support.

In October 2011 it was announced that BBC national factual programme-making was to move from Birmingham to Bristol.

The BBC said it was currently looking at "plans for future output, investment and audience engagement" in the region.

The group of MPs, which include Birmingham's Richard Burden, Gisela Stuart and Steve McCabe, previously met BBC Director General Lord Tony Hall in April.

The MPs said in 2011, the BBC spent £391m in the North, £699m in the South and £5.65bn in London and £100m in the Midlands.

'Fair share'

Richard Burden, Labour MP for Birmingham Northfield, 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 the Midlands to reap the social and economic benefits that come from the BBC's presences.

Image caption BBC drama Peaky Blinders was set in early 20th Century Birmingham

"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."

A spokesman for the corporation said: ''The BBC and Midlands MPs have a shared interest in making the BBC in the Midlands a more sustainable hub for the corporation in the future and in turn promote production in the region.

"BBC board member, Peter Salmon, along with newly appointed head of business development in Birmingham, Tommy Nagra, are currently looking at plans for future output, investment and audience engagement that can be sustained."

'No quick fixes'

Tracey Briggs from the Campaign for Regional Broadcasting said: "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."

David Jennings, head of regional and local programming, BBC West Midlands, said there were "no quick fixes".

He said the corporation had to "deliver an exciting story for Birmingham against a backdrop of fast-changing technologies and audience appetites and make sure it is affordable, given budgets are tighter than ever".

Mr Jennings said the BBC had to build on the strong content already produced in Birmingham, including Asian Network, Radio 4's The Archers, BBC One's Doctors, Father Brown and Midlands Today.

This week the BBC also announced a second series of BBC One drama WPC56, while The Game is currently being filmed in Birmingham and produced from The Mailbox.

It said other programmes made in the city also included Peaky Blinders, By Any Means, the Summer of Wildlife event and Gospel Choir of the Year.

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