June 18, 2024

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BBC falling short on moving music and radio spending out of London

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The BBC has so far failed to move its promised spending on music and radio out of London to fund projects in other parts of the UK, according to the public spending watchdog.

The National Audit Office said on Friday that although the broadcaster had hit many targets as part of its six-year plan since 2021 to decentralise operations, it made little change to its regional radio and music budget.

The watchdog’s report assessed the progress made by the corporation in the first phase of its Across the UK strategy, designed to move more funds and decision-making from the capital to the nations and regions by 2027-28. 

It found that the BBC’s business plan for relocating spending was “under-developed, with no options appraisal for meeting objectives and no assessment of the local labour market”.

“This has created delivery risks, with unrealistic timelines for moving roles,” the NAO added.

While the broadcaster is aiming to invest half of its audio budget outside London by the end of 2027-28, spending on music and radio in the regions remained almost unchanged at 41 per cent in March compared with 2020, according to the watchdog. 

The corporation boosted spending on regional TV networks, however, with 58 per cent of the budget going outside the capital as of March, compared with 51 per cent three years ago.

The report comes as the BBC is facing a backlash over cuts to its local radio output, announced last year after the government imposed a two-year freeze on its funding for the broadcaster.

The corporation wants regional stations to replace some of their unique programmes with a shared stream, which critics say could hamper services for local communities.

Across all its operations, the BBC plans to transfer about 400 jobs and to spend at least £700mn outside London by 2028, generating an additional £850mn in local economies. 

By June…

2023-11-23 19:01:09

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