Monday, 21 June 2010

Consolidation. We knew it was coming.

Last month, and two posts down on this blog (scroll down or click here), I painted a gloomy picture of consolidation and retrenchment. Today, the first big jobs and stations cuts bit - and hard. 200 jobs and 18 stations are to disappear, as Heart moves ever closer to a national 'Brand'. Here's the Guardian's report.

Not over yet, I'm afraid.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Naming names

I’m all in favour of localism in local media, as you might have gathered from earlier posts. So I was pleased that BRMB, back under local ownership, decided to revive the Walkathon – a twenty mile charity walk around Birmingham’s circular number 11 bus route – after seventeen or so years of non-local ownership. It took place last Sunday. They raised more than they expected, for a worthy charity. Well done; applause all round.

I was slightly less impressed with the ungenerous coverage from BBC Midlands Today on Monday. The event got scant coverage, with the briefest of brief shots, showing an unimpressively small group of people walking along an empty path. Critically, there was no mention of BRMB, who organised and sponsored.  

Compare and contrast, then, with the lavish Midlands Today coverage of the difficulties that a Handsworth Community Radio station is experiencing. New Style Radio has funding problems, and things are looking grim. But boy, did the BBC ever go to town on their situation in the evening bulletin last night. Names were named; lovingly crafted footage of disaffected staffers and volunteers was shown; principals were grilled on screen in forensic detail.

So what do we learn from this? It’s, sadly, a typical local media thing. If a non-BBC Radio Station does something significant and worthwhile for the greater community, then, hey, that’s good news. So the BBC will, if they absolutely must, report it; but will then go to ridiculous lengths not to give the station any credit. If on the other hand, a non-BBC station is squirming on the hook because of bad news… then you can look forward to explicitly detailed coverage.

That Midlands Today’s two pieces were aired within the space of three days served to highlight a frankly uneven approach.

Community Radio stations across the country are struggling for funds; licenses are being handed back regularly, and I fear it’s going to get a lot worse. I was very sorry to hear of New Style’s difficulties, just as I was impressed with BRMB’s successful revival of the Walkathon. But a little bit of reporting consistency from Midlands Today would have been nice.