Background to the report
The BBC is the main public service broadcaster in the UK. Its mission and public purposes are set out in its Royal Charter. In March 2021, the BBC published The BBC Across the UK (ATUK), setting out its ambitions to strengthen its delivery for the whole of the UK, particularly in areas where perception of the BBC’s relevance are relatively low, and to ensure that every household gets value from the BBC.Jump to downloads
It plans to do this by cumulatively spending at least an extra £700 million outside London between March 2021 and March 2028. Its March 2021 plans covered television, audio (radio and music), news, local communities, online and technology, production hubs and studios, training and apprentices, and property, with impacts falling primarily on its Content, News, Technology and Product divisions and support functions.
The BBC’s recognition that most of its decision-making and expenditure has been historically located in London is not new. In 2004, it developed plans to relocate several departments to a new regional centre, subsequently completing its move to Salford in April 2012 (which we reported on in March 2013). ATUK builds on this, but the BBC considers it a much bigger transformation affecting every part of the BBC and all four UK nations.
ATUK is expected to increase programming from all parts of the UK outside London, including Salford, Cardiff, Newcastle and the North-East, Birmingham and the West Midlands, Glasgow, and Belfast. Its ATUK commitments exceed existing quotas for producing television programmes outside the M25 set by Ofcom, the BBC’s regulator.
Scope of the report
The BBC’s implementation of ATUK has three phases spanning seven years, with phase one covering set-up and implementation up to March 2023. Phases two and three are broadly focused on delivering further moves and maximising the benefits of ATUK respectively. We have assessed the BBC’s progress with its implementation of ATUK so far and sought to draw out lessons for the remaining implementation periods. We assessed the following:
- The BBC’s plans for implementing ATUK
- What the BBC has achieved so far during phase one of implementing ATUK
- Challenges for implementing the remaining phases of ATUK
ATUK is rooted in the BBC’s Public Service Broadcasting Group and we have not therefore assessed its impact on the BBC’s commercial activities.
The BBC has made progress in setting up ATUK and making decisions which it expects to result in extra expenditure and decision-making outside London, particularly in terms of television production expenditure and News. By the end of phase one in March 2023 the BBC was £20 million short of its planned target for transfer of expenditure outside London but had met this three months later by June 2023. Overall, at the end of phase one, the BBC has transferred 9.6% of its total £700 million target for March 2028, with the remaining transfer of expenditure planned for phases two and three.
The BBC is confident that through continuing to hold its divisions to their individual targets it will meet its £700 million target. Meeting this target remains possible if the BBC can quickly put in place a plan to overcome challenges to date in transferring expenditure in some areas, notably audio production. Conversely, it also expects to exceed its transferred expenditure target for television production and so the BBC will need to understand whether this has any impact in terms of achieving its strategic objectives for ATUK.
The BBC is seeking to make investments at a scale which stimulates local change, and it acknowledges that it will take some time for ATUK activities and expenditure to fully contribute to local creative, cultural and economic impact and ultimately benefit audiences in targeted areas. To secure value for money and to achieve real transformation through ATUK, the BBC will need to sustain momentum: following through on its commitments and sustaining trust and communication with its own staff, local communities and partners.
It also needs to work out how to track its objectives to improve value for audiences and secure economic value, including developing an improved approach to its evaluation of medium- and long-term outcomes while also planning for how it will sustain the benefits of ATUK beyond March 2028.
- Report - The BBC's implementation of Across the UK (.pdf — 3 MB)
- Summary - The BBC's implementation of Across the UK (.pdf — 130 KB)
- ePub - The BBC's implementation of Across the UK (.epub — 2 MB)
- ISBN: 978-1-78604-518-8 [Buy a hard copy of this report]
- HC: 190, 2023-24
View press release (24 Nov 2023)