BBC director general Tony Hall has announced major plans for investment in a number of UK cities as it aims to have a majority of its activities in the regions.
In a speech at BBC’s Central Square base in Cardiff, Lord Hall said that he wanted to have at least two-thirds of the BBC’s activities outside London by the time of its next charter renewal in 2027.
As part of that strategy, he announced plans to open a new tech hub in Newcastle, increase the work done by the BBC at Salford’s Media City and expand BBC Studios in Bristol.
Lord Hall also highlighted the BBC’s global role and said that all of the recent British winners at the Golden Globes had worked with the BBC at some point in their career.
His speech comes at a time when the BBC is under increasing attack from some politicians after a bruising election campaign, and over its plans to drop free TV licences for over 75s.
The move towards more regional centres comes as Channel 4 is working on a second base in Leeds, plus bases in Bristol and Glasgow.
Lord Hall said: “This is the beginning of what I think should be a renewed push – getting the BBC up to at least two thirds around the country (if not more) by the time our charter comes to an end in 2027.
“I know all the risks. It will take time. It would cost money. It could be hugely disruptive. But it is an enormous creative opportunity; for audiences, for talent, for the UK.
“It’ll make us more relevant; more in touch with audiences; more alive to creative opportunities. That’s a really exciting prospect.”
In his speech, Lord Hall said Salford would become “the heart” of BBC Sounds and would be home to more digital posts and “much more journalism”.
Newcastle would get a tech hub that would “deliver a new generation of software engineers; designers; product developers and data scientists” while there would be 150 new jobs in Bristol, the home of the BBC’s acclaimed natural history unit.
Lord Hall’s speech praised the “amazing” BBC centre in Wales, which he said would put almost £1bn of economic benefit into the south Wales economy over the next 10 years.
He said the BBC’s news output would focus on analysis of some of the big issues facing society, and that it would also be investing in its iPlayer and Sounds services.
But – a week after BBC presenter Samira Ahmed won a high-profile equal pay tribunal against the corporation – he also admitted that “we haven’t always got it right” and said the BBC had to think about its internal culture.
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