Ian Austin MP

Labour MP for Dudley North

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Austin: Invest our licence fees in our region

Dudley MP Ian Austin has called on the BBC to put more investment into the Midlands.

Speaking in the Commons today, Austin called on the BBC to make increased investment in the Midlands part of their plans as they seek the renewal of the licence fee.

And he said the BBC should work with universities, businesses and local authorities to establish a centre for creative industries, broadcasting and digital media and bring new jobs to the West Midlands.

The Campaign for Regional Broadcasting estimates that residents in the Midlands contribute 25 per cent of licence fees but receive just 2 per cent of the BBC’s total investment in return.

Every £1 invested by the BBC generates £2 in the wider economy, with campaigners arguing that the West Midlands has lost out on hundreds of millions of pounds as a result.

The BBC’s Pebble Mill TV studio in Birmingham was closed in 2000 leaving the region without BBC studio space and few locally produced programmes.

Ian Austin said:

“The Midlands contributes £942 million to the BBC every year in licence fees, but we get less than a tenth of that back in investment.

“As a result we’ve seen the demolition of Pebble Mill in Birmingham, fewer programmes being made here and a drop in investment from other broadcasters like ITV.

“Creative industries will generate hundreds of thousands of really well paid jobs over the next few decades and I want our fair share of them in the West Midlands, so I’m asking the BBC to commit to increasing investment in the Midlands before they ask local people to renew the licence fee for another ten years.”

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