BBC gives Birmingham a £23m boost

The Mailbox in Birmingham

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Nearly 70 jobs will move from London to Birmingham as the director general threw the Mailbox a £23m lifeline.

Tony Hall told teams on Thursday that the Midlands headquarters - left bruised and half-empty after 2012's exodus of programmes to Bristol and Salford - would become a centre for new skills and digital innovation.

The first phase of his plans, which will also see seven jobs move from Salford, include the relocation to Birmingham of the Upfront induction course and digital arts forum The Space.

England's second biggest city will also become home to the Corporation's trainee and apprentice schemes, as well as its outreach work.

And building on the city's growing reputation for cutting edge digital activity, the DG will establish a digital innovation team at the Mailbox, which will explore new ways to tell stories to young audiences.

'Place to be'

'I want to make Birmingham a really exciting and important part of what we do,' said Hall. 'This is just the start - but make no mistake, if you're interested in new skills and digital innovation, this is the place to be.'

The changes will take place over the next two years, bringing around 81 jobs and £23.5m additional activity to the region in a three-year period.

Peter Salmon, the BBC North director tasked with leading the project, said: 'We're building a stronger BBC in the city and today's announcements are the first steps in that journey. We will continue to work with Birmingham, the wider region and the wider BBC to increase our activity here.'

BBC Birmingham has been in the doldrums since the announcement of DQF proposals in 2011 to move factual TV and Radio 4 programmes from the Mailbox to Bristol and Salford.


They triggered strikes and an angry response from staff who staged regular protests, arguing that the plans would see Birmingham become a media 'ghost town'. Politicians also lamented the impact of the plans on Birmingham's economy.

Programmes including Countryfile, Coast, Hairy Bikers and See Hear left Birmingham last year, leaving much of the Mailbox unoccupied.

It still houses Radio 4's The Archers and local and regional output, while network drama, including Doctors, WPC 56 and Father Brown, is made in the nearby drama village at Selly Oak.

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