Hundreds of BBC roles will move to the North and Midlands

Tim Davie
X The Business Desk

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The BBC has this afternoon confirmed it will relocate high profile national journalism jobs from London to the regions, including to the Midlands, the North West and Yorkshire.

The broadcaster’s director general Tim Davie unveiled plans at an all staff-meeting this morning.

Specialist journalism teams covering topics such as the environment, technology, and education will be relocated from London to new bases in Leeds, Birmingham, Cardiff and Glasgow. In total, 400 jobs will move out of London.

Proposals are set out in the BBC’s blueprint for the future entitled The BBC Across the UK.

The BBC says they, “represent top-to-bottom change and will cement our commitment to better reflect, represent, and serve all parts of the country”.

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

  • Major parts of BBC News to shift across the UK – Significant parts of BBC News will be moved to centres across the UK, ensuring it covers the stories that matter most to audiences and more effectively represents different voices and perspectives. Half of UK-focused story teams will be based around the country
  • A truly UK-wide BBC – Salford will become the main base for the digital and technology teams – a global centre of excellence – supported by digital teams in Glasgow, Cardiff and London; there will be an expansion of BBC Studios bases in Bristol, Cardiff and Glasgow; an upgraded 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 doubling of the BBC’s commitment to apprentices – 1,000 apprentices will be supported in any year across the UK and the BBC will pilot an Apprentice Training Agency in the West Midlands.
  • A big investment in BBC local reporting – A network of digital community journalists will enhance regional news provision; there will be a tailored BBC One across Yorkshire, North West and North East England; up to six new peak-time BBC local radio services will be introduced – including in Bradford, Sunderland and Wolverhampton; and new BBC local on-demand bulletins for over 50 areas on BBC Sounds.

By 2027/28 the BBC says it will be spending at the very least, an extra £700m cumulatively across the UK – generating an additional economic benefit of over £850m.

It says this will not only dramatically increase opportunities for jobs and training, but 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.”

Further plans revealed today include:

  • A transformation in the way the BBC commissions TV programmes – For the first time, a clear majority of our UK-wide TV will be made across the UK, not in London: at least 60% of network TV commissions by spend.
  • A transformation in the commissioning and production of network radio and online audio – 50% of network radio and music spend will be outside London by 2027/28.
  • 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.

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 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 the BBC’s hubs around the UK by 2027.

The changes are expected to take place over six years from 2022. The aim of this strategy appears to mirror that of Channel 4’s relocation two years ago, with The Guardian reporting it aligns with the Government’s levelling-up agenda and will see the broadcaster cover underserved communities.

Damian Waters

Damian Waters, CBI North West director, said: “This radical transformation will help reconnect the BBC with communities across the UK by delivering investment, jobs and opportunity to all corners of the country.

“The stated aim of supporting social and economic recovery is welcomed in the North West, while the ambition to establish Salford as a global centre of digital and technological excellence is a justified vote of confidence in the region’s talented workforce.”

He added: “A future BBC which fully represents all facets of our diverse population, amplifies North West voices and enhances prosperity, will be keenly embraced by business within the region.”