Regional freelance producers and editors protest BBC plans to change regional programming

The BBC’s plans to change the way its regional current affairs programming is drawn up will “serve many viewers very poorly,” according to production teams who worked on previous editions.

The broadcaster said last week it would end the current Inside Out program with 11 regional editions.

It will be replaced by a new fast-paced series of half-hour investigative journalism films covering topics of interest from across the country and produced at six regional hubs in Newcastle, Leeds, Norwich, Birmingham, London and Bristol.

The BBC also said it plans to revitalize its 11 regional Sunday policy programs to improve its political performance outside of Westminster.

91 freelance producers, editors and camera crews who worked on Inside Out, Sunday Politics or other regional BBC programs have now written to the BBC Board to protest the plans.

They said that in addition to threatening their livelihoods, they “passionately believe that these changes will poorly serve many viewers, particularly in the South, which appears to have borne the brunt of the cuts”.

Each Inside Out series produced more than 200 different stories that “not only provide a great amount of content for the BBC’s regions, but also make valuable contributions to both national news programs and the company’s valued online content”.

They questioned the ability of a 30-minute program produced in Bristol as part of the replacement series to “reflect the lives and interests of people living anywhere from Penzance to Gloucester,” saying it could “nowhere near the number.” cover ”From stories that were given on Inside Out airtime.

“At a time of national crisis and given the many issues related to Covid-19, Brexit, climate change and the shape of our economy and society that need to be addressed at the local and regional level, we strongly believe that the BBC needs to deepen its commitments to the regions, not reduce them, ”the letter said.

“A reduction or even a loss of focused regional programs like Inside Out will undermine the very values ​​on which the BBC is built – reflecting and representing the diverse communities of nations and regions while supporting the creative industries across the UK.

“With the BBC about to renegotiate the charter, it seems nonsensical to throw away the breadth of truly unique programming – especially given that commercial radio and independent television have given up their regional commitments.”

The letter urged the BBC to instead “take the far bolder decision to strengthen [regional production]This in turn enables us to continue our important work of informing and entertaining all of the relevant English regions that we are so proud of. ”

The 91 signatories include Inside Out South West reporter and presenter Dan Olaiya, wildlife reporter Mike Dilger from The One Show, wildlife presenter Nick Baker and at least 20 producers as well as numerous light camera operators, film editors, directors and independent production companies .

Inside Out will lose 29 jobs, along with another 142 online and TV news jobs in BBC England, where a total of 450 jobs will be cut to save £ 25m by the end of March 2022.

A BBC spokesperson said: “The BBC has made plans to redesign its local services in England to better serve audiences, respond to the lessons of the Covid-19 crisis and generate savings to meet their financial challenges . That meant making some tough decisions.

“The new investigative program will consist of 30-minute individual films that will give us the opportunity to explore issues that matter to our audience in more depth. We have chosen to create it from six production centers that are spread across the country but will still serve every region of England. ”

The BBC has stated that its vision for its regional and local services is to commission a wider range of television programs that reflect life across England, particularly in the North and Midlands.

Helen Thomas, Director of BBC England said: “I am confident that we can continue to develop our local and regional services while improving our impact and serving our audiences better.”

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April 10, 2021