Broadcast freelances organise in the North of England

Northward Ho!

ARE YOU a freelance broadcast journalist based outside the London area? Have you found your workload falling in the last eighteen months since the BBC did one of its periodic re-centralisations? If so we'd like to hear from you.

"We" are the Northern Freelance Network. We want to get in touch with any broadcast freelances in the regions.

The Network was formed in May 1999 by a group of freelance broadcast journalists living and working in the North of England. We are all experienced contributors to BBC Network Radio and Television - particularly Radio Four. We formed the network in response to the drastic reduction in feature-making outside London in recent years and especially since the changes to the Radio Four schedules in April 1998.

These changes have meant much less work for us in the north - with the end result that the voices of "ordinary" people in the region don't get heard on the BBC networks. We've also found that northern MPs are having problems getting their views on air, as are major arts organisations such as the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds. All this is because the majority of the network news and feature output now seems to be live from London.

The Network has two main aims. One to provide a forum for mutual support and exchange of information and ideas. Two, to campaign for the reversal of the trend towards London-centred production, and for a revival of the crafted feature in radio magazine programmes and full- length programmes.

So far we've been quite active. We've organised ourselves to make it as easy as possible for London-based producers to contact us quickly and find competent freelances in the right area. We've set up a dedicated web-site at www.northern-freelance.net with a map of the region showing where each reporter is based. It includes lists of freelances grouped as reporters, presenters, producers etc. Each name is linked to a personal CV with contact details and the link to the whole site has been e-mailed to as many staff as we can think of. It's already started to generate work from London-based producers.

We've also started to plan a campaign to see how we can reverse some of the devastating effects of the centralisation of BBC production in London. This plan is backed by the NUJ's Broadcasting Industrial Council and the Freelance Industrial Council.

It's not just the North that is suffering. We understand that other regional centres like Birmingham and Bristol are equally badly hit. We don't believe that the centralisation of production in London is an accurate reflection of the talent spread across the country. Nor can we believe that the BBC is content that the inhabitants of these regions have been to a large extent disenfranchised.

Please get in touch:
Lesley Hilton lesleyhilton@gledhow1.demon.co.uk or 0113-293-1400; and
Mike Hally mike.hally@fleet-street.com or 01257-482559.

Jan/Feb 2000
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Last modified: 12 December 1999
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