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Regional Broadcasting (East Midlands)

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:47 pm on 30th March 2004.

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Photo of Ms Estelle Morris Ms Estelle Morris Minister of State (Arts), Department for Culture, Media & Sport, Minister of State (Department for Culture, Media and Sport) (Arts) 3:47 pm, 30th March 2004

In a moment. I just want to make one more point so that there is some flow in what I am saying.

The crux of the matter is sub-regional news, not regional news. I think that my hon. Friend the Member for Mansfield is saying that regional news from Birmingham is not serving the east midlands well. To me, the crucial point is that as well as targets for regional news coverage, there are targets for sub-regional news coverage. As midlands MPs, we all know there are three sub-regional news coverage areas: Birmingham, Abingdon and Oxford, and the east midlands. I believe Ofcom's view to be that the targets for the east midlands sub-regional news cannot be met if all the news gathering is moved to Birmingham. Therefore, if a situation should ever arise—this is not what is proposed—that affects news gathering as well as news presentation, there would be a genuine argument that sub-regional targets were not being met, and Ofcom could be invited by local MPs to comment on that point.

My hon. Friends may not believe it, but the proposal—I have no reason to disbelieve it and am not intervening—is that the presentation of news, not news gathering, should move to Birmingham. As long as the journalists who gather the news are in the east midlands and there is a sub-regional target for east midlands news, as opposed to west midlands news, there is a powerful argument that the target has been reached. If my hon. Friends do not believe that, we have a difference of opinion. We shall have to wait and see. However, if the journalists move, Ofcom can intervene to say that the targets are not being met.