Two city sister titles have joined forces to call on the BBC to give their readers a fairer return for their licence fee.
The Mail and Post have reported that for each £145 people in the West Midlands pay the BBC in licence fees, the region receives £12 in investment and jobs.
Now they want more of the £942m of licence fee revenue raised in the region to be spent there.
The papers’ five-point list of demands is:
- The BBC charter should dictate that no more than half of revenue raised in a region is spent outside that region.
- A minimum of 12.5pc of prime-time production to take place in the West Midlands.
- A content fund, at least part-funded from the licence fee, to be created in the Midlands for drama and film-making.
- The BBC charter should dictate that not only funding but its structure, particularly commissioning, should be devolved to the regions – including the Midlands.
- Investment in television network production facilities for the region.
A Mail editorial adds: “This is important because investment means jobs – both those working directly for the BBC and all the support services and trade for local businesses that go with a major organisation locating in an area.
“And there’s no doubt having more programme makers based here would help ensure the region was better reflected in drama, comedy and news coverage.
“The BBC wants the Government to give it another ten years of licence fee funding as its Charter Renewal campaign starts later this year.
“The Charter should not be a licence for the BBC to print money in the Midlands and spend it in London and Manchester.
“The Birmingham Mail calls on every Midlands licence fee payer, every politician, every candidate in May’s elections to ask the BBC: “What’s in it for us?”
“If the answer isn’t significantly higher than £12 for every licence fee payer, the Midlands must say no to charter renewal.”
A BBC spokeswoman responded: “Birmingham is really important to us and that’s why we’ve put a lot of effort into building up the BBC in the city over the past 12 months.
“We’re investing an additional £23.5m in Birmingham and are moving another 200 jobs there, including the globally respected BBC Academy.
“Licence fee payers rightly expect us to operate efficiently, and it’s simply not affordable to have BBC studio facilities in every part of the country.
“But BBC Birmingham remains the home of the world’s most popular radio drama, The Archers, and popular BBC One shows like Doctors, Father Brown and forthcoming drama The Coroner.
“It’s crucial that we produce programmes and services that reflect the whole region properly and 78pc of people in the West Midlands say they approve of the BBC.
“We’re clear that BBC Birmingham will be a strong, vibrant, and sustainable base, fit for the future in a fast changing media landscape.”