BBC must decentralise jobs to North West, says Colum Eastwood

Tue, 03/09/2019 - 14:21 -- Editor

SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood MLA has called on BBC Northern Ireland to demonstrate its commitment to the North West by decentralising jobs to the region.

The Foyle MLA said that many were concerned that cancelling Sean Coyle’s show is the beginning of running down services outside Belfast.

He said: “As a public broadcaster, BBC Northern Ireland has a responsibility to ensure that it reflects the diverse community that it serves. There are concerns however, following the decision to cancel Sean Coyle’s show, about the organisation’s commitment to voices and services in the North West. 

“There is a world outside the greater Belfast area and the BBC should not shy away from reflecting that in their corporate decision making. As City of Culture, for example, Derry demonstrated that we are leaders on these islands when it comes to the strength of music, dance and storytelling. It is staggering that there are only around 30 BBC staff here. I want to see voices from this city and from every corner of this island reflected in the BBC’s output.

“One way to address these concerns is to decentralise more staff and invest in locations outside Belfast. There is no reason why an organisation of this size, with over 600 staff, serving audiences across the North should retain so many at Ormeau Avenue. I have no doubt that current staff, and those interested in a future career in broadcasting, would welcome the opportunity to live and work closer to the communities they serve. 

“I will be writing to Peter Johnston as Director of BBC Northern Ireland to outline the concerns that I have heard about the commitment to communities outside Belfast and particularly in Derry. I’ll also be asking him to consider decentralising jobs to the North West to assure people and communities here that they are a vital part of the future of broadcasting.