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BBC to move jobs and spend out of London in sweeping overhaul – Deadline

The BBC plans to move £ 700million ($ 977million) in spending and hundreds of jobs outside of London as the company tries to better reflect the nations and regions of the UK after being criticized by government ministers to get a “narrow urban perspective”.

The BBC’s so-called ‘across the UK’ strategy was announced to employees on Thursday morning and is being touted by senior BBC executives as one of the broadcaster’s most radical reorganizations in nearly 100 years of ‘history.

The changes are partly motivated by political pressure, but they also aim to deal with existential threats. The BBC faces unprecedented competition from big-budget streamers like Netflix, but believes it is not doing a great job representing the UK. The BBC wants to dominate in the telling of British stories and in turn ensure that the public is prepared to continue paying the license fees.

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Major commitments made today include the cumulative spending of £ 700million outside London by March 2028, which could average an additional £ 100million per year on average. At present, just over half of the BBC’s £ 1.6bn budget for network television is spent regionally and in decentralized countries, including Scotland and the Country. of Wales.

The BBC has pledged that 60% of its TV shows will be produced outside London by 2028, which CEO Tim Davie says “will increase our image and representation of audiences across the UK”. This change in tone in production will involve moving people and commissioning out of London.

“We need to do more if we are to remain relevant and represent a UK that is changing rapidly, and where too many great editorial and creative choices are still ingrained in just one part of the UK,” Davie told staff today . “Authentic and passionate storytelling from all of our nations and all of its diverse communities is what will truly make the BBC different from anyone else. People must feel that we are closer to them.

In practical terms, that means you’ll start to see more drama, like the Welsh origin series Keep the faith, appearing on the BBC. Indeed, the broadcaster has pledged to create and produce two new ‘long-running drama series’ from the north of England and Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. It could mean more shows like Victim or Holby city, which are made in Wales.

The BBC said it would move a total of 400 jobs outside London as part of the overhaul, as well as recruit more staff to work in national and regional outposts. About half of those 400 people will be BBC News staff, including science reporters in Cardiff, Wales, and tech journalists in Glasgow, Scotland. However, the main BBC executives will remain in London.

BBC executives will try to calm nerves that the relocation efforts will result in layoffs through the backdoor. They will tell staff that moving people out of London will not necessarily result in downsizing beyond existing initiatives, like the plan to cut 450 press posts.

Other details announced by the BBC on Thursday include:

  • Over 100 of the BBC’s new scripted titles over the next three years “will reflect the life and communities of nations and regions across the UK”
  • Moving BBC Studios-produced Morning Live at the BBC’s Manchester base in Salford
  • Building a ‘center of excellence’ for television production in Birmingham
  • Ensure that half of the BBC’s radio and music budget is spent outside London
  • Most of the 6 pieces moved to Salford
  • Flagship news fair Newsnight will be presented from Belfast, Cardiff, Glasgow and Manchester throughout the year
  • Radio 4’s Today show co-hosted outside of London for at least 100 episodes per year

Davie previously reported on the BBC’s energy base diversification plan. In his first major speech to staff last year, which he chose to deliver from Glasgow, Scotland, the former boss of BBC Studios said: ‘If we want to get closer to our audience, we need a organization based more across the UK, helping to boost the creative economy across the country. “

It follows comments from Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden last March, who said: ‘The BBC needs to be closer to the whole of the UK and understand the perspectives of it and avoid providing an urban vision narrow. “

Responding to the proposals, the Bectu union said it welcomed the push from nations and regions, but worried about the impact it might have on its members. National Secretary Noel McClean said, “Our immediate concern is the impact on the people, our members. As always, the devil will be in the details and Bectu will scrutinize the proposals with a fine tooth comb to ensure workers are properly supported by these changes and the need for layoffs is minimized.

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