'The devil will be in the detail’ over BBC plan for the North, warns television leaders

The BBC has been urged to provide more details about the organisation’s ‘transformation plan’ for the North of England by business and television leaders from across the region, as they warned that “the devil will be in the detail” of the new agreements being forged.

The call to action comes as the broadcaster announced a new “action plan” which aims to move "power and decision making" outside of London, yesterday. (18 March)

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BBC to move top journalism jobs to Leeds as it announces transformation plan for...

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Unions has warned that moving BBC jobs to Leeds doesn’t reverse deep cuts to regional BBC journalism in Yorkshire.

The BBC will create a new learning hub will be created in Hull with the aim to open up training for young people and a new peak time radio service will be launched in Bradford. While a tailored BBC One across Yorkshire, North West and North East England, with new marketing campaigns catering for the region. Photo credit: PA

While Northern television and business leaders have said the BBC’s plans have only given a “starting point” for the broadcaster to diversify and give more powers to the North.

Under the proposals, entitled: The BBC Across the UK plan, that the organisation’s 22,000 employers were briefed on yesterday, roles will be moved out of the capital and moved to cities including Leeds, Birmingham and Salford - which will become the main base for its digital and technology teams.

Across Yorkshire and the Humber the plan would see two BBC news teams - the learning and identity team and some of the new UK insight team - move to Leeds. While also creating 20 funded bursaries with the National Film and Television School in the city.

A new learning hub will be created in Hull with the aim to open up training for young people and a new peak time radio service will be launched in Bradford.

Pictured, a view of Leeds city centre. As part of the BBC's 'plan for the North' the organisation will move two news teams to Leeds as part of a transformation plan for the North of England. Photo credit: stock.adobe.com

While a tailored BBC One across Yorkshire, North West and North East England, with new marketing campaigns catering for the region.

And a new long-running drama series is also set to be produced in the North, the location not yet announced, and broadcast across the country.

Screen Yorkshire - the region’s film and television agency, said that latest plans 'lack detail' over exactly how the region will benefit.

Sally Joynson, the chief executive for Screen Yorkshire, said: “I think the headlines suggest a genuine commitment to the North.

Sally Joynson, the chief executive for Screen Yorkshire. Photo credit: JPIMediaResell

“The big agenda is about opening opportunities outside of London - and this is what this speaks to and if they can actually deliver on this - then we would expect to see a very different BBC and that will be reflected both on screen and off screen.”

She added: “In the North these are all licence fee payers - therefore they have every right to see their communities, their stories, their people, their voices heard on the BBC and this indicates that this is the direction the BBC is going in.

"There is nothing I have seen about how they are actually going to do it.

"The general direction of travel - this looks very promising - it looks very exciting, it’s what we would expect the BBC to be doing at this stage in it’s life.

"The finer detail is what we need to drill down into - to actually understand exactly which opportunities it will open up for Yorkshire and the wider North.”

According to the National Union of Journalists, the proposals will result in 600 job losses at BBC News.

The BBC had previously earmarked 450 jobs to go in news as part of a cost cutting exercise across it’s whole organisation.

Paul Siegert, the NUJ national broadcasting organiser, said: “We welcome more diversity and creating more content out of London is a good thing, as is extra investment in apprenticeships.

"However, it’s strange that at the same time the BBC is talking about the importance of getting out of London and investing in the regions as a means of better serving the audience, it has also axed 450 posts in English regions and cut £25m from that budget."

Bill Adams, the Yorkshire and the Humber regional secretary for the TUC said the new BBC plan didn't go far enough to reverse deep cuts to regional BBC journalism in Yorkshire.

He said: “Whilst we welcome job creation in the region, we’re clear that the best way the BBC can support the levelling up agenda in Yorkshire is by investing in the high quality local and regional journalism that can hold this government and rogue bosses to account.

“The BBC bosses should be dedicating more resources to local and regional reporting, not cutting 450 staff as they announced last year.”

Over the next six years, the BBC said it will give “more prominence” to stories from communities across the North as part of what the organisation has described as the “biggest journalistic reshaping” of the BBC in its history.

Tim Davie, BBC director-general, said: “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.

He added: “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.”

Helen Thomas, director of BBC England, added: "This is brilliant news for Yorkshire.

"I’ve worked in Yorkshire for most of my career and there has never been a better time to be in the media here.

"There is the overall story that will see the BBC spend more money and make programmes in places like Yorkshire in the future, which offers a great opportunity for the creative and media sector.

"If people have questions, we’d be happy to answer them but I see this as great news for Yorkshire."

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