Friday, January 16, 2015

Up and down the M1

There have been several reverse ferrets in the life of the BBC Asian Network. In terms of "home", it started life as a network rather than a station - joining together bits of Asian broadcasting across BBC local radio. In 1998, it moved to DAB, under the patronage of Jenny Abramsky, and invested in its own soap opera, an enhanced news team, and, eventually, new studios and offices in Leicester. From 2007, though, there was a drift of programme-making to London and Birmingham.

Then, in 2010, the Asian Network was threatened with the same axe that hovered over the neck of 6Music. Both survived - but the Asian Network ended up with a very much reduced budget. The news teams were centred in London, and the schedule featured more music.

Today we learn that the early evening weekday show, hosted by Bobby Friction, is moving from Birmingham to London in April, to join the Nihal phone-in and news teams; there are hints of more announcements on Monday. The BBC, under pressure to "fill up" the Birmingham production centre known at the Mailbox, says it will remain a 'key production base for output' - 'the biggest base' for Asian Network staff.

Meanwhile there'll be a flurry of induction courses for new staff arriving at the Mailbox over the next year. 200 posts from London are on the move, including Academy (training) staff, the core of HR and Internal Comms, property staff, the trainee and apprentice schemes, and outreach work. Guesses are that over 60% of staff currently in those posts have politely declined the opportunity, and taken the redundancy package.

The new cadre can expect to be greeted by Joe Godwin, who, it turns out, is to be Head of Birmingham as well as Director of the Academy. This frees Tommy Nagra to return to Manchester.

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