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27 August 2014
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tinyAnnual Review 2004/ 2005

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As I come to the end of my appointment as Governor with special responsibility for the English Regions having served two terms of office, it seems a fitting time to look back and see what’s happened over the past eight years.

People in front of the Angel of the North:  Cover  picture of the  2006 Annual Review

There has been a sea change in this multimillion pound, multi-centre business, driven by the desire to achieve greater localness and to connect more deeply with local licence fee payers around the country.

In my travels around the 50 or so BBC sites in England, I have noticed a new confidence emerging amongst the 3,000 strong staff who deliver local services in the BBC Local Radio stations, Where I Live local websites, and the regional television centres.

Each year has seen the launch of new, local services in response to audience demand, and each year their popularity has built so that in many cases, it is those local and regional services which are winning the highest audiences and achieving recognition for their
public value both inside and outside the BBC.

Network partnerships are thriving, building on the impact of wide-ranging series such as Springwatch,The British Isles: A Natural History, Coast, Who Do You Think You Are? and Nation on Film – series which our advisory councils have not only praised but described as unique to the BBC.

Local TV Journalist Tabetha Painten

When I first took up office, no such partnerships existed, nor were there any network commissions to BBC English Regions. The more traditional role of BBC English Regions, as one of the BBC’s main training grounds for new talent, has grown apace and gained a fresh momentum with the establishment of the Nations & Regions best practice centre, SON&R, in Bristol.

One of the results has been an increased professionalism, demonstrated in the number of industry awards won, and the high standards set in the BBC’s own Ruby and Gillard Awards, for regional television and English Local Radio respectively.

But most of all there has been a desire to engage directly with audiences which I have supported whole-heartedly. A whole range of initiatives including the Open Centres and BBC Buses, the Where I Live sites, the Roots partnership with Arts Council England, and this year, the Local Television pilot, have built new relationships with people across England.

All of these share one thing – a celebration of everything that is best in our multicultural society. It has been one of my aims during my time at the BBC to foster a debate on what it means to be English today and I have delighted in the paradoxical nature of the BBC’s services, offering a rich mix of programming for diverse audiences and bringing the country together at momentous times in the life of the nation.

Ranjit Sondhi CBE

I hand the continuing debate on to my successor and commend the enthusiasm, dedication, and professionalism of the staff under the inspired leadership of Andy Griffee. It is his clear vision which has guided BBC English Regions through unprecedented growth and recently, the impact of job cuts and the new priorities under the Creative Futures initiative.

Finally, I would like to bid farewell to the many friends I have made in the BBC and to the 530 advisory council members who have so graciously supported me in my role with their knowledge of BBC services and frank feedback.

I will continue to watch and wonder at the progress of this great organisation and wish it well in its unique role of bringing people together across England, across the UK and around the world.

Ranjit Sondhi CBE

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