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BBC maps out further commitment to the North in “Across the UK” plan

The BBC has revealed ambitious plans for its biggest transformation in decades, which will move more power and decision-making to the North.

Over the next six years the BBC will increase activity across the North to further cement a commitment to reflect, represent and serve all parts of the country, and deliver great value for all audiences.

Currently, half the BBC is based outside of London, with departments including Sport, 5 Live and Children’s having re-located to MediaCityUK in Salford in 2011.

But the exciting proposals set out in “The BBC Across the UK” plan will give even more prominence to stories from communities across the North region as part of the biggest creative and journalistic reshaping of the BBC in its history.

The BBC base in MediaCityUK will grow even more; we will make Salford the main base for our digital and technology teams, a global centre of excellence, supported by digital teams in Glasgow, Cardiff and London. BBC Radio 3 and BBC Radio 6 Music will be rooted in the North with more than 50% of their broadcast hours coming from Salford. Hit BBC One daytime show Morning Live will broadcast from there all year-round.

A new long-running drama series produced in the North of England will also be launched and broadcast across the country, while the North will get its continuity announcements with BBC One tailored to audiences in the North West, North East and Yorkshire.    

Director-General of the BBC, Tim Davie, said:

“Our mission must be to deliver for the whole country and ensure every household gets value from us. These plans show how we want to be closer to audiences, create jobs and investment and develop and nurture 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 the UK’s social and economic recovery; rebuilding the creative sector and telling the stories that need to be heard from all corners of the country.”

Stephen Wild, Managing Director of MediaCityUK, reacting to the BBC’s announcement, said:

“This announcement is really exciting for MediaCityUK and Salford as a whole. It means we can continue to attract and retain talent in the north as well as many more fantastic opportunities for our burgeoning creative, digital and tech sector.

“Everything we do at MediaCityUK has a partnership approach and the BBC are fundamental to this. The BBC were our first partners on site, they have had a huge part to play in our history and will continue to be a big influence on our future, making MediaCity a place where creative communities thrive.”

Plans set out in detail for the North of England in “The BBC Across the UK” document include:

  • The introduction of a tailored BBC One across Yorkshire, North West and North East England, with bespoke continuity announcements and marketing campaigns.
  • A new long-running drama series produced in the North of England launched and broadcast across the country.
  • The BBC’s base in MediaCityUK to become the hub for the BBC’s Audio Business News service with the Today programme business updates also coming from Salford.
  • BBC One daytime hit Morning Live will relocate to Salford – broadcasting to the UK every weekday.
  • BBC Radio 3 and BBC Radio 6 Music will be rooted in the North with more than 50% of their broadcast hours coming from Salford.
  • The opening of new Learning Hubs in Liverpool and Hull; creating exciting training and skills opportunities for young people.
  • The launch of peak-time radio services in Bradford and Sunderland.
  • Two BBC News teams will move to Leeds; the Learning and Identity team will relocate to Leeds and some of the new UK Insight team will move to the city.
  • Regional BBC One HD services will launch for the first time making our regional content available on HD for the first time.
  • We will recruit a new network of community digital reporters to help bring our journalism closer to communities.
  • We will continue to work with the National Film & Television School in Leeds on our expanded three-year partnership to support new talent, and to strengthen diversity across the UK through 20 funded bursaries.
  • A new daytime TV commissioner will be based in the North East, tasked with finding stories from across the UK for a national audience.
  • The Writersroom, our home for new writing talent, will be expanded in Salford with a new Head of New Writing based at BBC North, tasked with discovering and developing new writers in the North and across the whole UK.
  • A new assistant comedy commissioner will be based in Salford working with talent in the North on new and existing titles.
  • There will be a new commercial operation for BBC Children’s working out of Salford.
  • Newsnight will be presented from different bases throughout the year, including from Salford.

The central aim of “The BBC Across the UK” plan is to move power, investment and resources right across the UK and increase our economic, cultural, and social impact in every corner of the country.

By 2027/28 the BBC will be spending at least an extra £700m cumulatively across the UK, dramatically increasing opportunities for jobs, training and representation of all parts of the country on and off screen.

The plan will mean more than a thousand extra jobs beyond London – as well as supporting hundreds of new roles in the tv and audio production sector across the nations and regions. Two-thirds of BBC Three spend will be outside London. More than 100 new and returning drama and comedy titles will reflect the lives and communities of audiences outside London.

Alongside the BBC plan, new research has been published that shows the broadcaster’s positive impact on the creative economy and its increasing contribution across the  UK.

According to a new report from KPMG, the BBC has played a role in cultivating Salford as a creative and digital cluster. Employment in the sector has seen growth of 142% between 2010 and 2019, and the number of digital or creative businesses has grown by 70%.

The report also identifies how there is evidence of an emerging creative cluster in Cardiff, where the BBC has opened Central Square and Roath Lock.

More broadly, the report finds 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 £4.9bn in the UK economy – £1.5bn more than if it was performing in line with the industry average. Around half of the BBC’s total economic contribution was generated outside of London – compared to an average in the sector of 20%  – an increase from 32% in 2012.

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.

You can read more about The BBC Across the UK plan here.