The StirrerThe Stirrer

news that matters, campaigns that count

for Birmingham, the Black Country and beyond

LICENCE TO THRILL

11-01-2007

BBC bosses were due to hear today about the new licence fee settlement - though it now seems the decision has been delayed. The tragedy is that apart from finding out how much we all have to pay to watch telly, the news won't make that much difference to the West Midlands anyway. Compared to Manchester we've become a broadcasting backwater.

The gap between us and them is only likely to grow wider if the BBC fulfils its commitment to shift both BBC 3 and Radio Five Live to the north-west.

As The Stirrer revealed recently BBC Birmingham couldn't even hold on to the one major network programme it generated last year - BBC 1's The One Show. (Local management aren't to blame for that loss incidentally. We understand that the show's main presenter Adrian Chiles was unwilling to move back full-time to the West Midlands for family reasons, and the Corporation's London-based management were unwilling to proceed with a different “face”.)

Anyway, there's no point crying over spilt milk. The question now is how can we make this region punch its weight as a major television power - because if we don't, Birmingham's aspiration to become the UK's first digital city will surely flounder.

The prize is to generate the thousands of jobs and immense prestige associated with being a leader in one of the dominant technologies of the 21st century; the price of failure will be to lose yet more of our graduates and creatives to other cities.

Fortunately, The Stirrer sees an opportunity- butit's one that must be grasped as soon as possible.

Our sources suggest that later this month (probably at a media conference in Oxford on January 18)the chief executive of Ofcom, Ed Richards is likely to formally announce the creation of a new kind of “public service publisher” which will generate online content, internet TV, and podcasting.

The budget from the new venture will be in the region of £350 million - and we have to make sure that it's based here.

Birmingham has the location - the new learning quarter at Eastside - and if the speed with which next year's digital film festival was put together is any guide, it also has the political will.

So when Ed Richards gives the word, we must be ready to pounce and grasp the initiative. In the last TV age we were always lagging behind; this our opportunity to be in the vanguard of the next television age.

Ultimately, this is a far more exciting proposition than Manchester's BBC deal; but time (and timing) is of the essence.

Leave a comment or raise new issues on The Stirrer message board.

©2006 The Stirrer