Saturday, 8 October 2011

BBC Cuts – Birmingham and the Midlands suffering again

It was sad and depressing to learn that across the Midlands the BBC will be cutting back. Birmingham and the wider West Midlands has been particularly hard hit with the loss of programme making at BBC Birmingham and job losses at local radio stations.

So what is being cut?

- BBC Birmingham to lose 25% of its staff, a reduction from 600 to around 450 posts.
- Approximately 100 BBC staff working in factual TV programming at the Birmingham Mailbox site to be moved to Bristol
- BBC WM: 11 posts
- BBC Radio Stoke: 7 posts
- BBC Hereford and Worcester: 8 posts
- BBC Radio Shropshire: 8 posts
- BBC Coventry and Warwickshire: 7 posts
- BBC Midlands Today: Loss of the 3.00pm & Saturday lunchtime bulletins; reduced weather presenters
- The Asian Network: reduction from 82 posts to about 40 to 45 (to be split between London and Birmingham)

It was BBC Birmingham that was responsible for classic programmes like All Creatures Great and Small and more recent hits such as Countryfile, Gardeners World and the hit series Coast. The loss of programme making in the city is a bitter blow and brings to an end a proud era. Another pillar of Birmingham’s civic pride is to be lost.

Michele Paduano, Midlands Today's NUJ rep, got is spot on when he said: “It's the end of Birmingham as a major, national, programme-making centre. It continues the decline from Pebble Mill and Birmingham is losing out to Bristol and Manchester. The people of the West Midlands shouldn't stand for it.”

Yes we should not stand for it. In the same way we should not stand for our high youth unemployment, the continued erosion of our manufacturing base and the utter contempt that this Government has for the region.

Indeed, this announcement could not have come at a worse time. It is not just a travesty for the affected staff or a knock to regional pride, but potentially a real blow to the city’s economy. The media industry amounts to around 10% of the City’s economic output. Coming on top of council cuts of £212million and economic stagnation the cuts to the BBC in Birmingham and the Midlands further threatens the health and dynamism of the local economy.

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