Northern freelances get results

MEMBERS of the Northern Freelance Network have been writing to their MPs to raise the question of BBC network radio's commitment to the regions. James Boyle's review of Radio Four led to cuts in producer posts in Manchester. And the BBC's Greg Dyke wrote back to Mike Hally's MP thusly:

...it is true that the regional producer posts for Woman's Hour, You and Yours and Kaleidoscope were closed at that time. On taking up her appointment as Director of Radio, Jenny Abramsky reviewed the situation and concluded that the loss of input from those producers had increased the risk of Radio 4 programmes sounding too metropolitan. She has now revised that decision, and allocated extra funding to restore the posts. One of the key functions of the post-holders will be to act as a conduit for London-based programmes to gain access to expertise in the North, whether from freelance reporters or contributors.

We can't claim all the credit for this reversal. But it shows that when a determined group of freelances campaign together, we can get results. There's still a long way to go, though, before the BBC gets back to generating anywhere near the amount of features in the North that it used to. As an example, Move It, a transport programme on Radio Five Live, is the last programme on the network still to use freelance packages. It's coming off air in April. Not only will Five Live be a closed door now to regional package-makers (and this is the station that used to run regional features throughout its schedule) but its only regional commitment will be five hours of studio-based phone-in in the form of Late Night Currie coming from Birmingham.

The correct web site and e-mail addresses for the Northern Freelance Network are:
lesleyhilton@gledhow1.demon.co.uk and

Top Freelance tip: Never run a computer spell-check on copy with internet addresses. Ouch.

Mar/Apr 2000
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Last modified: 07 Feb 2000
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