Hundreds of BBC roles will move to the North and Midlands

Tim Davie

The BBC is to relocate high profile national journalism jobs from London to the regions, including to Yorkshire, the Midlands and the North West.

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

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.

Two BBC News teams will move to Leeds; the Learning and Identity team and some of the new UK Insight team.

Full 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 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.
  • A truly UK-wide BBC – Salford will become the main base for the digital and technology teams – 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 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.

Councillor James Lewis

Reacting to the changes, Councillor James Lewis, leader of Leeds City Council said: “The BBC will be in good company as the region is home to a large number of broadcasters including of course Channel 4’s new northern headquarters.

“Journalists who make the move will be able to make the most of our strong transport connections to other parts of the UK and the offer of a high quality of life. I look forward to welcoming them in the future.”

Roger Marsh, chairman of Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership and NP11 said: “The scale of organisations attracted to the region from Channel 4, UK Infrastructure Bank, Department for Transport, and now the BBC strengthening its base here, demonstrate the breath of our offering and making it a truly exciting time for the region.

“Broadcaster presence also plays a crucial role in amplifying the activity taking place in the region and provides a platform for a more ambitious and resilient creative sector for the future.

“This not only allows opportunities for the retention of talent in region, but the ability to tackle workforce diversity and on-screen representation as more content is developed and commissions are made with a regional focus.”

Sally Joynson, chief executive of Screen Yorkshire, said: “Increasing its presence in Yorkshire will bring the BBC closer to regional audiences and help Yorkshire strengthen its position as a centre of excellence in the regional screen industries.

“Yorkshire has a strong track record in news and current affairs broadcast journalism, and basing part of the BBC News team in Leeds will help the region build and retain talent, increase access to work experience placements, boost local jobs and hopefully result in more programming being produced in Yorkshire.”

The BBC’s plans to move roles comes just a week before the inaugural Invest North virtually conference which is bringing together public and private sector leaders to set the agenda for what comes next for the North.

To find out more information about the event or to book your ticket and join the over 500 people already attending the event visit InvestNorth.uk.

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