BBC Three gets second base in Birmingham

Image caption,
BBC Birmingham is already home to BBC WM, Midlands Today and news online operations

A new base for BBC Three is to be created in Birmingham, alongside a hub for the corporation's proposed partnerships with local newspapers.

The plans come as the government is due to publish its White Paper on the future of the BBC on Thursday.

The organisation has faced criticism for under investment in the city, once home to the fabled Pebble Mill studios.

The BBC said the plans meant a £10m boost for "fresh talent and innovative digital content for young audiences".

The new investment is on top of an existing £125m already tied to the second city base in The Mailbox, it said.

Under the plans, the commissioning, publishing and some production of BBC Three's short-form content, along with the social media team that supports it, would relocate to Birmingham by 2018.

The channel, which targets 16 to 34-year-olds with a mix of comedy, documentaries and current affairs, went online only in February, to save £30m. It will also still be based in London.

Image caption,
BBC Three went online only in February

A new youth team will also be set up at The Mailbox site, which will be the main suppliers of news content for the channel's Daily Drop, BBC Three's new, mobile-first platform.

The local newspaper partnerships - outlined in September by director general Tony Hall as a pool of local reporters who will share work with local papers - are expected to be based in Birmingham alongside the English Regions HQ.

"These teams, together with Birmingham's young and diverse demographic, will be harnessed to act as part of the hub for the identification, development and commissioning of new diverse talent and programmes as announced in the BBC's Diversity and Inclusion strategy last month," a spokesman said.

"To support this, the BBC Academy will launch a new scheme, the Birmingham Production Apprenticeship, for new off-air talent from diverse backgrounds."

Lord Hall said Birmingham had benefited from recent extra investment, but there was more to do.

"Now we're putting Birmingham at the heart of our innovation with BBC Three and making it home to a new youth team for BBC News.

"The city's incredible diversity also means it's the perfect place to lead our work to ensure we reflect the changing face of Britain.

"This package is good news for Birmingham and good news for the BBC."

Mark Rogers, chief executive of Birmingham City Council, said the plans were a "vote of confidence" for the city.

"Our city has the talent and creativity to play an important role in the next chapter of the BBC story," he said.

"As a city we have worked hard to make the case for Birmingham and this is a welcome development."

The Mailbox is already home to services including BBC WM, radio drama, The Archers, some Asian Network programmes, BBC Midlands Today and BBC Digital England.

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