BBC to Align English Regions with the BBC News Division

The BBC has announced a restructuring of the leadership of national and regional broadcasting and the creation of two significant new strategic forums within the Corporation. The move is part of its continuing drive, which most recently has included an increased commitment to production outside of London, to help ensure it fully represents the nations, regions and communities across the UK.

A similar initiative in its global operations is also announced. The Controllers of BBC Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are to be promoted to BBC Directors and will in future join the BBC Direction Group.

A new UK Forum, chaired by the Director-General, will provide a dedicated arena for issues relating to the BBC’s presence outside London. Similarly, a new International Forum, also chaired by the Director-General, will deal with matters relating to the BBC’s global services, international business development and operational issues overseas, and will allow unprecedented co-ordination of the BBC’s international activities.

BBC English Regions, which runs the BBC’s local radio, regional television and online services across England, will be aligned with the BBC News division for the first time from April 2009, in a move to maximise co-operation in the BBC’s news operations.

Announcing the changes, Mark Thompson, BBC Director-General, said: “The UK has changed significantly in the last 10 years, not just politically and socially, but also in the requirements of our audiences. These changes will add weight to the out of London representation on the BBC’s senior strategy and decision-making body. I am delighted to welcome Ken MacQuarrie, Menna Richards and Peter Johnston to the BBC Direction group” .

“Our decision to create an International Forum is an indication of the growing significance of the BBC’s operations outside the UK.Under Pat Loughrey’s leadership, the nations and regions of the UK have come on a long and highly successful journey to become the creative powerhouses they are today. From Doctor Who to Still Game, God On Trial to the brilliant coverage of last year’s floods, much of the best the BBC produces now comes from across the UK. Pat Loughrey has played a critical part in laying the foundations for these editorial successes and creating a compelling vision of the future,” Mark Thompson further added .

The Controllers of Scotland (Ken MacQuarrie), Wales (Menna Richards) and Northern Ireland (Peter Johnston) will be promoted to Directors and will in future join the BBC Direction Group, the operational decision-making group which meets weekly to take operational decisions and follow the strategy set by the BBC Executive Board. They will from April 2009 report to Mark Byford, Deputy Director-General.

A new UK Forum, chaired by the Director-General, will give new prominence to the BBC’s creative strategy and policies across the UK, dealing with topics ranging from audience strategy, creative approach and management resources. The Forum, which will meet bi-monthly, will be the strategic forum for nations and regions matters.

BBC English Regions will be aligned with the BBC News division. This recognises the very significant news gathering and reporting operation in radio and television across English Regions and will provide more career development opportunities for staff in both areas.

The change will enable the BBC to better reflect the rest of the UK as a whole in its journalism. BBC English Regions will be expected to continue to deliver the same high quality non-news output. The Controller of English Regions will also attend the board of the BBC’s Audio & Music division.

Pat Loughrey, the Director of BBC Nations & Regions will establish and develop the UK Forum and will continue to steward the proposals to add local video to the BBC Local websites, currently the subject of a public value test by the BBC Trust. He will continue to lead BBC Nations & Regions division through the transition period to April 2009, and has decided to leave the BBC in the late summer of 2009.

A new International Forum, chaired by the Director-General, will focus on the BBC’s international presence, strategies, policies and brand management. The Forum’s membership will include the Deputy Director-General, the CEO of BBC Worldwide and Director of Global News and the Director of Marketing, Communications and Audiences. This new strategic forum will meet quarterly, beginning later this year.

A proposal to create the post of Director, BBC North, who will direct and manage the BBC’s planned development in Salford, was announced last month. Recruitment to this post is now underway.

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