Trust approves increase in network TV production in the nations

Date: 28.05.2008     Last updated: 10.02.2016 at 11.28

The BBC Trust has approved plans that should lead to a significant combined increase in network television production across the English regions, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The Trust agreed that in future the BBC should adopt more challenging targets for measuring and meeting its targets for network production in the nations by using Ofcom's definition instead of the existing BBC one.

This decision forms part of a renewed commitment by the BBC to move more network television production out of London to draw on the talent and skills of the whole UK. Including the impact of moving several departments to Salford in 2011, the Trust now expects the BBC to ensure that 50% of network production will be made outside London under the Ofcom definition by 2016.

Sir Michael Lyons, Chairman of the BBC Trust, said:

"Average levels of affection for the BBC are noticeably lower the further people live from London. This is partly because the BBC is seen to be too preoccupied with the interests and experiences of London. People living elsewhere in the UK simply do not see their lives adequately reflected on the BBC.

"The BBC is paid for by licence fee payers across the UK and we have approved a strategy that signals the start of some big changes to increase the volume of network television production across Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The BBC is planning sustainable centres of innovation and creativity across the UK, including all parts of England."

Mark Thompson, BBC Director-General, said:

"The BBC exists because of the contribution of licence fee payers right across the United Kingdom, and so we have a duty to reflect the whole of the country. We can best achieve this by investing over the long term to ensure our production centres outside of London are sustainable. This will take time and will be measured over years not months, but we are already making bold steps. Our new centre in Glasgow and the move to Salford, along with innovation in places like the drama village in South Wales, demonstrate our commitment to seed the BBC through the UK."

During the Charter renewal process, the BBC committed to sourcing at least 17% of its network television production from the nations under its own existing definition. The Trust has now decided to make the target 17% under the Ofcom definition and to require the BBC to meet or exceed it by 2016. The Trust has also set an intermediate target to be reached by 2012.

This new definition is much more challenging than the old one. For example in 2007/8, the BBC sourced 15.9% of network production from the nations under the old definition. Under the new definition this is equivalent to 7.7%.

The Trust notes and supports Director-General Mark Thompson's earlier commitment that the BBC should source a proportion of network programmes from Scotland, equivalent to Scotland's share of the UK population. The Trust seeks a comparable approach in relation to Wales and Northern Ireland. Although there will not be formal targets for individual nations within the overall 17% goal, the Trust will monitor production from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland carefully to ensure that the BBC is helping to build strong and sustainable network production in all three nations and also look at production in the English regions.

The Executive will report annually to the Trust on progress towards the overall targets and the nation by nation position.


Notes to editors:

1. The BBC Trust today published a statement. 

2. There are a number of differences between the existing BBC definition and the Ofcom definition the BBC will use in future. The main differences relate to:

  • Commissioned by a nation but made elsewhere in UK: The BBC definition included programmes commissioned through and executive-produced in a nation as nations output, even though the bulk of the production may take place elsewhere in the UK (examples include Waterloo Road and Murphy's Law)
  • International production: The BBC definition counted originated programmes made in or through the nations which also have significant levels of international production as nations output
  • Excluded genres: The BBC definition also excluded sports and daytime programmes

3. The BBC is creating a new centre in the North of England as part of the MediaCityUK development at Salford Quays in Greater Manchester. Five BBC London-based departments, including two TV channels and two radio stations, will move to MediaCityUK in Salford in 2011. They are BBC Children's (including CBBC and CBeebies); BBC Formal Learning; BBC Future Media & Technology (including Research & Development); BBC Radio 5 Live (including 5 Live Sports Extra); and BBC Sport.

4.The Trust carried out research around the purpose remits in 2007 which asked the public about their attitude to the BBC. 83% in the South East of England agreed with the statement that they would "miss the BBC if it wasn't there", to 63% of those in Scotland, 68% in Wales, 58% in Northern Ireland and 64% of those in the North of England.