BBC publishes blueprint for the biggest transformation in decades

The BBC has revealed ambitious plans for its biggest transformation in decades, which will move power and decision-making across the UK

Published: 11:45 am, 18 March 2021
Updated: 11:41 am, 18 March 2021
Tim Davie, BBC Director-General
Tim Davie, BBC Director-General
Our mission must be to deliver for the whole of the UK and ensure every household gets value from the BBC. These plans will get us closer to audiences, create jobs and investment, and develop and nurture new talent.
— Tim Davie

Over the next six years, the broadcaster will shift its creative and journalistic centre away from London. Proposals set out in the BBC’s blueprint for the future entitled The BBC Across the UK, represent top-to-bottom change and will cement our commitment to better reflect, represent, and serve all parts of the country.

By 2027/28 the BBC will be spending at the very least, an extra £700m cumulatively across the UK - generating an additional economic benefit of over £850 million. This will not only dramatically increase opportunities for jobs and training, but improve representation on and off screen.

Tim Davie, BBC Director-General, says: “Our mission must be to deliver for the whole of the UK and ensure every household gets value from the BBC. These plans will get us closer to audiences, create jobs and investment, and develop and nurture new 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 social and economic recovery; rebuilding the creative sector and telling the stories that need to be heard from all corners of the UK.”

Plans set out in detail in the Across the UK blueprint, include:

  • A transformation in the way we commission TV programmes - For the first time, a clear majority of our UK-wide TV will be made across the UK, not in London: at least 60% of network TV commissions by spend.
  • A transformation in the commissioning and production of network radio and online audio - 50% of network radio and music spend will be outside London by 2027/28.
  • Major parts of BBC News to shift across the UK - We will move significant parts of BBC News to centres across the UK, ensuring we cover the stories that matter most to audiences and more effectively representing different voices and perspectives. Half of our UK-focused story teams will be based around the country
  • A truly UK-wide BBC - 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; we will expand BBC Studios bases in Bristol, Cardiff and Glasgow; upgrade our Belfast HQ; in radio, Newsbeat and Asian Network will be based in Birmingham; while Radio 3 and 6 Music will be rooted in Salford.
  • A big investment in BBC local reporting - A network of digital community journalists will enhance our regional news provision; we’ll introduce a tailored BBC One across Yorkshire, North West and North East England; we’ll see up to six new peak-time BBC local radio services -including in Bradford, Sunderland and Wolverhampton; and new BBC local on-demand bulletins for over 50 areas on BBC Sounds.
  • Strengthening the creative economy right across the UK - We will renew creative partnerships with Northern Ireland Screen and Creative Scotland, create a new one with Creative Wales, and focus on partnerships in the North and Midlands in England.
  • A doubling of our commitment to apprentices - We’ll support 1,000 apprentices in any year across the UK and pilot an Apprentice Training Agency in the West Midlands.

In addition, news and current affairs programmes like BBC Two’s Newsnight will be presented from different UK bases through the year and Radio 4’s Today programme will be co-presented from outside London for at least 100 episodes a year. The hit BBC One daytime show Morning Live will be broadcast year-round from Salford.

Funds will be invested in two new long-running network drama series over the next three years - one from the North of England and one from one of the Nations; over the same period, more than 100 new and returning drama and comedy titles will reflect the lives and communities of audiences outside London, including at least 20 that will portray Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.

In radio, key daytime programmes on each of Radio 1, 1Xtra and Radio 2 will be made across the UK and each network radio controller will have at least one commissioner based in one of our hubs around the UK by 2027.

The plan is published as new research from KPMG shows the BBC has “wide ranging economic impacts on the UK economy” and makes “a significant economic contribution across each of the UK’s nations and regions:”

  • Around half of the BBC’s total economic contribution was generated outside of London - an increase from 32% in 2012. And the BBC’s direct economic contribution outside of London was much higher than the industry average of 20%
  • 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
  • The report also highlights how the BBC, through its presence and investment, 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 an emerging creative cluster in Cardiff, where the BBC has opened Central Square and Roath Lock, demonstrating the transformative effect the BBC can have on the creative economy outside of London
  • More broadly, 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

This comprehensive and wide ranging KPMG report will be published in full shortly.

We will assess, where appropriate, our proposed changes to local plans for materiality in line with our requirements under the Charter and Agreement, engaging with interested stakeholders and Ofcom.

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