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THE BBC have announced an investment package of £45 million to strengthen programme-making in the BBC regions.
The Board of Governors agreed the final details of the their biggest ever single investment, which includes additional funds for local sports rights across the UK, the total comes to £50 million by 2002 to 2003. The money will be used to enhance local programme making on television, radio and online in all parts of the UK.
The developments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland include the creation of new entertainment, comedy, drama and popular factual programming, with the aim of creating major new programmes for BBC One, both for local and potentially for UK-wide audiences.
New programme ‘Zones’ will also be created in peak time on BBC Two Digital in each Nation, replacing the current opt-outs on BBC Choice, where viewers in each Nation will be able to find a wider mix of factual, leisure, arts and programmes specifically made for them.
Director of BBC Nations and Regions Pat Loughrey (pictured) said: “This is a breakthrough point in the fortunes of the BBC’s nations and regions. Nothing could demonstrate more clearly the BBC’s determination to provide audiences and licence payers everywhere with more programmes that are directly relevant to their lives.”
Across the whole UK there will also be substantial additional investment in an effort to increase local sports rights. In the English Regions the BBC’s online websites will be extended, with the aim of establishing 50 sites over the next two years.
Director-General Greg Dyke, said: “Our aim now, building on past success, is to develop new programming in other genres that can enhance the value that the BBC delivers to local audiences in every part of the UK. I’m keen to see more comedy, entertainment, drama and new kinds of popular factual programming produced in the Nation, both for the audiences who live there and also to run on the BBC’s networks. But the decision on how the new money will be spent will not be taken in London but locally – because that is what devolution is all about.”
In the past two years the BBC have responded to devolution in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland by investing £20 million to strengthen and extend news, current affairs and coverage of the new political institutions. A further £5 million has been invested to create more local services in London and the South East.
BBC Chairman Sir Christopher Bland, said the investment would increase the range of programmes available and strengthen the BBC both locally and nationally.
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