BBC to increase programme production outside London

The percentage of BBC television programmes made outside of London is expected to receive a significant boost, after the BBC Trust today approved plans that redefines the Corporation’s targets in this area.

Previous BBC targets relating to production of programmes in the nations and regions have been set by reference to its own definition of what counts as network production.

However, the trust has now decided to apply the definition used by Ofcom for the rest of the UK broadcasting industry, which it described as “much more challenging” and said represented “a significant stretch”.

Under the new definition, the BBC will no longer be able to count programmes commissioned through and executive-produced in a nation as nations output, when the bulk of the production may have taken place elsewhere in the UK.

As an example of the change using the new definition will bring to the BBC, the trust said that in 2007/8, the BBC sourced 15.9% of network production from the nations using its own definition. Under Ofcom’s definition, this was equivalent to just 7.7%.

Sir Michael Lyons, chairman of the BBC Trust, said: “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.”

BBC director-general Mark Thompson 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.”

During the BBC Charter renewal process, the Corporation committed to sourcing at least 17% of its network television production from the nations using 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. It has also set an intermediate target to be reached by 2012.

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