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BBC shifting key jobs and production out of London

March 18, 2021

The BBC has revealed plans for what it describes as “its biggest transformation in decades, which will move power and decision-making across the UK”.

Over the next six years, the broadcaster will shift its creative and journalistic centre away from London. Proposals set out in the BBC’s blueprint for the future entitled The BBC Across the UK, will cement commitment to better serve all parts of the country.

By 2027/28, the BBC aims to be spending at the very least, an extra £700 million cumulatively across the UK – generating an additional economic benefit of over £850 million. This will ultimately increase opportunities for jobs and training, and improve representation on and off screen.

Tim Davie, BBC Director-General, said: “Our mission must be to deliver for the whole of the UK and ensure every household gets value from the BBC. These plans will get us closer to audiences, create jobs and investment, and develop and nurture new talent. Over the last year, the BBC – which has been an essential part of the UK’s culture, democracy and creativity for almost a century – has helped inform, educate and entertain all four Nations, as we have collectively faced some of our toughest moments in recent history.

“Now, as we look to the future, we must play our part in supporting social and economic recovery; rebuilding the creative sector and telling the stories that need to be heard from all corners of the UK,” Davie added.

Plans set out in detail in the Across the UK blueprint, include:

  • A transformation in the way TV programmes are commissioned – For the first time, a clear majority of UK-wide TV will be made across the UK, not in London: at least 60 per cent of network TV commissions by spend.
  • A transformation in the commissioning and production of network radio and online audio – 50 per cent of network radio and music spend will be outside London by 2027/28.
  • Major parts of BBC News to shift across the UK – The BBC will move significant parts of BBC News to centres across the UK, ensuring to cover the stories that matter most to audiences and more effectively representing different voices and perspectives. Half of the UK-focused story teams will be based around the country
  • A truly UK-wide BBC – The BBC will make Salford the main base for its digital and technology teams, supported by digital teams in Glasgow, Cardiff and London; it will expand BBC Studios bases in Bristol, Cardiff and Glasgow; upgrade the Belfast HQ; in radio, Newsbeat and Asian Network will be based in Birmingham; while Radio 3 and 6 Music will be rooted in Salford.
  • A big investment in BBC local reporting – A network of digital community journalists will enhance regional news provision; the BBC introduce a tailored BBC One across Yorkshire, North West and North East England; there will be up to six new peak-time BBC local radio services -including in Bradford, Sunderland and Wolverhampton; and new BBC local on-demand bulletins for over 50 areas on BBC Sounds.
  • Strengthening the creative economy right across the UK – The BBC will renew creative partnerships with Northern Ireland Screen and Creative Scotland, create a new one with Creative Wales, and focus on partnerships in the North and Midlands in England.
  • A doubling of commitment to apprentices – The BBC will support 1,000 apprentices in any year across the UK and pilot an Apprentice Training Agency in the West Midlands.

In addition, news and current affairs programmes like BBC Two’s Newsnight will be presented from different UK bases through the year and Radio 4’s Today programme will be co-presented from outside London for at least 100 episodes a year. The hit BBC One daytime show Morning Live will be broadcast year-round from Salford.

Funds will be invested in two new long-running network drama series over the next three years – one from the North of England and one from one of the Nations; over the same period, more than 100 new and returning drama and comedy titles will reflect the lives and communities of audiences outside London, including at least 20 that will portray Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.

In radio, key daytime programmes on each of Radio 1, 1Xtra and Radio 2 will be made across the UK and each network radio controller will have at least one commissioner based in one of our hubs around the UK by 2027.

The plan is published as new research from KPMG shows the BBC has “wide ranging economic impacts on the UK economy” and makes “a significant economic contribution across each of the UK’s nations and regions:”

  • Around half of the BBC’s total economic contribution was generated outside of London – an increase from 32 per cent in 2012. And the BBC’s direct economic contribution outside of London was much higher than the industry average of 20 per cent.
  • The report also finds the BBC is supporting a total of over 53,000 jobs – with over half outside of London – and for every 1 job directly created by the BBC, a further 1.7 jobs were created in the wider economy.
  • The report also highlights how the BBC, through its presence and investment, played a role in cultivating Salford as a creative and digital cluster. Employment in the sector has seen growth of 142 per cent between 2010 and 2019, and the number of digital or creative businesses has grown by 70 per cent.
  • The report also identifies an emerging creative cluster in Cardiff, where the BBC has opened Central Square and Roath Lock, demonstrating the transformative effect the BBC can have on the creative economy outside of London.
  • More broadly, every £1 of the BBC’s economic activity generates a total of £2.63 in the economy. In 2019/20 the BBC generated an estimated £4.9 billion in the UK economy – £1.5 billion more than if it was performing in line with the industry average.

This comprehensive and wide ranging KPMG report will be published in full shortly.

Responding to the announcement, DCMS Committee Chair Julian Knight MP said: “We welcome the BBC’s decision to move more of its operations to Birmingham, Cardiff, Leeds and Salford which will give licence fee payers greater bang for their buck. It’s the start of greater recognition of the need to commit to and rebalance audiences outside London.”

“However we hope these changes will not repeat some of the costly mistakes made by the BBC in its previous move to Salford. This has to represent value for money for licence fee payers.”

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