My meeting with Mark Thompson, Director General of the BBC
I just come back from the meeting with Mark Thompson, Director General of the BBC. The meeting lasted one and a half hours. At the meeting was Gisela Stuart MP, Richard Budden MP, Steve McCabe MP, John Hemming MP and two members of Birmingham City University.
Obviously each person at that meeting will have their view on how it went. From my perspective I was very direct and forceful in explaining my unhappiness with the way the BBC appear to be vacating Birmingham, especially the move of the Factual Unit.
Mark Thompson made the following points:
a) the decision to move the Factual Unit to Bristol has been made and will not be reversed.
b) He made a personal promise that the Archers will never leave Birmingham –this was in response to me saying that the move of the Factual Unit to Bristol would lead to the Archers moving to Bristol as well.
c) He explained that he had met Councillor Mike Whitby this afternoon and it was agreed that a Memorandum of Understanding will be signed between the BBC and the Council as a way of increasing the presence of the BBC in Birmingham. See http://birminghamnewsroom.com/2012/02/bbc-backs-birmingham%E2%80%99s-creative-city-initiative/
d) he was happy for the private sector to hire at a market rate the studios and equipment at the Mailbox – this was in response to me saying that the radio studio in the Mailbox was only used 6 days a week, so why couldn’t the private sector use them.
e) he would be happy for any future city-based tv station to work side-by-side using the same facilities and equipment in the Mailbox.
f) He will give serious consideration to parts of the BBC Academy moving to Birmingham from London.
g) He wants to work with the Council in sharing apprenticeships, using the new Library of Birmingham archives and work with the city to deliver its creative city agenda.
h) He wants to work with the local independent sector to deliver more drama from the region.
i) He will ask Caroline Thomson, Chief Operating Officer to come to Birmingham and meet us in early March. The objective of this meeting will be to put some solid proposals to the new Memorandum of Understanding.