Summary of Document
This file contains the Regional Officers’ Reports from the Midland Region. The reports were produced every two months. This file commences with January 1969, and ends with November/December 1971. The tone of the reports read very much like a conversation between the Regional Officer and the Director-General, there are also notations in the margins, presumably made by the Director-General.
The reports consistently highlight three sections: Programmes, the Company, and the Region. The programming section contains a largely personal assessment of the programmes by F.W. Bath who was Regional Officer of the Midlands. The criteria include plausibility of the script, criticism of content, appropriateness of transmission time, and levels of violence, as well as audience reactions.
One the soap operas “Crossroads”, the Regional Officer noted that the show’s storyline had generated interesting reactions by the public. As one of the characters had been imprisoned, the switchboard at the real gaol, Winson Green, had been jammed by viewer phone calls. Bath is particularly critical of the programme “Honey Lane”, and later “Hog” for its depiction of violence. In the first few reports there is a sub-heading concerning Presentation, which discussed providing proper training for female announcers. However, this section is eliminated early on.
During the course of 1970 and 1971, the reports pay more attention to both Children’s Programmes and Religious Programming. In addition, Bath continually discusses issues with “Women Today”, including product endorsement, and more controversially the topics covered by the programme (see document). A section on Independent Local Radio added June/July 1971 with population figures for coverage areas, and a proposed structure for governance in a subsequent report.
Bath first discusses the appointment of a Director of Programmes, who he hoped would be based near Oxford. The appointee, Francis Essex, ended up being based in London and Bath, although enthusiastic about the appointment, initially discusses difficulties in coordination. It is unclear if Essex relocated to the Birmingham area, but his input is more apparent as the reports progress. The Company section also discusses items such as the opening of the ATV facilities in the Paradise Centre in Birmingham, and to continuing issues with labour unions. Throughout 1969 and continuing into 1971, various issues with the unions are mentioned. In the March/April 1969 report, overtime issues, and the union refusal to work overtime, were causing programming disruptions.
The Region section details public relations about the Authority, and interactions with local groups. In the April/May 1969 report, an extended report on the National Viewers and Listeners Association meeting held on 9-10 May, 1969, was included. The speakers at the meeting included Rosemary Sisson on programming for children, Baronees Summerskill on TV violence, Mary Whitehouse on sex and language, and Jim Coltart on censorship. Another interesting point in this section has to do with the inclusion of Oxford in the Midlands. The Oxfordshire residents seemed to object to this classification, but further complained that the area was ignored by ATV programming.
Monthly Report for the Midlands – January/February, 1970, dated 12 February 1970, from F.W. Bath
Items Covered on “Women Today”