BBC announces plans to shift operations, employees out of London and across U.K.
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The BBC has announced that it will be moving large portions of its workforce out of London and into other parts of the country in order to better represent the U.K. as a whole.
BBC currently has about 22,000 employees worldwide. Many of them are currently working from home due to the coronavirus pandemic, but the broadcaster announced plans to move entire news divisions and teams to places including Cardiff, Birmingham, Leeds, Glasgow and Salford.
As part of the plans announced March 18, 2021, BBC will launch a version of BBC One targeted at residents of Yorkshire and northeast and northwestern England.
BBC Two’s “Newsnight” will start rotating studios throughout the year, with the climate and science editorial team moving to Cardiff. Technology journalists will move to Glasgow, while the “learning and identity” news team will move to Leeds.
The network also plans to place around 100 reporters across the country in an effort to give its broadcasts more regional coverage.
On the radio side, select editions of shows will be produced outside of London, while various operational units will be moved to different locations.
Also planned are two new unnamed soap opera drama series that will be produced outside of London in the next three years.
It’s all part of an effort to commit to produce a majority of its TV programs as well as move 50% of its radio budget spending outside of London.
Early plans are also under way to upgrade the network’s Belfast facility to support expanded operations there.
BBC will continue to call London’s Broadcasting House its headquarters. The complex, which includes portions of a 1930s-era building constructed for radio broadcasting, started an extensive two phase renovation and expansion in 2003.
BBC spent over £1 billion on the expansion, which was touted as having the potential to save £700 million over the 21 years left, at the time, on the lease for the campus, at least partially due to consolidating and streamlining operations while also cutting back on leased property or facility upkeep.
In the March 18 announcement, meanwhile, BBC said it will spend an “extra” £700 million outside of London by 2028.
Some early reaction includes people noting the potential effect the moves could have on employees, who may be forced to pick between relocating their entire lives and families or leave the network.
Some have wondered why at least some employees of the divisions slated to move can’t stay put, especially given that remote working has proven to be possible in ways many could never imagine over the past year of coronavirus operations.
For its part, BBC notes that it receives its funding from fees paid by citizens from all over the U.K. and touts the changes as a way to better serve and make its offerings more relevant to everyone.
It also unspecified trends claiming its offering need to become more relevant to everyone who pays into its budget.
BBC has already faced criticism after moving some of its operations to MediaCityUK in Salford, with about 3,200 employees working there, with one internal estimate, later downplayed, saying the move would cost £1 billion over 20 years.