Tony Hall

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Tony Hall said the plan “could be hugely disruptive” but is “an enormous creative opportunity”

BBC director general Tony Hall has outlined a plan that will see at least two thirds of the corporation’s staff based outside of London by 2027.

Lord Hall said a new tech hub will be opened in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, while 150 jobs will be moved to Bristol.

Salford will be “the heart” of BBC Sounds and will be home to more digital posts and “much more journalism”.

He said creating more jobs away from the capital would help to “promote inclusion” and “diversity of thinking”.

A third of the BBC’s workforce was based outside London a decade ago, and that figure now stands at around half.

“Our centres have become magnets for ideas and talent, new jobs and investment,” Lord Hall told BBC staff on Wednesday.

“That’s really good news. But I know we can go further. We can do so much more for this country – and we’re going to – starting this year.”

‘New generation’

Lord Hall said Newcastle’s new tech hub would aim to deliver “a new generation of software engineers, designers, product developers and data scientists in the north-east of England”.

The natural history unit in Bristol will expand, while the BBC Sounds curation team will move to MediaCityUK in Salford to join controller Jonathan Wall “within weeks”, he added. They will add non-BBC podcasts to the audio app.

“For the first time, we’re going to open up Sounds to new British creators wherever they are and bring the best podcasts to everyone,” Lord Hall explained.

He also announced that children will soon get a “radically different” experience on iPlayer, while the BBC News app will also be overhauled.

He said: “This is the beginning of what I think should be a renewed push – getting the BBC up to at least two thirds around the country, if not more, by the time our charter comes to an end in 2027.

“I know all the risks. It will take time. It would cost money. It could be hugely disruptive. But it is an enormous creative opportunity – for audiences, for talent, for the UK.

“It’ll make us more relevant, more in touch with audiences, more alive to creative opportunities. That’s a really exciting prospect.”

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Tony Hall was speaking at the BBC’s new Central Square offices in Cardiff

Lord Hall acknowledged that the BBC had “been through a lot” since he became director general in 2013, and the organisation has “not always got it right”.

He vowed to keep “learning, talking [and] changing” to ensure the corporation is “the most inclusive, innovative, inspiring place to work”.

Last week, presenter Samira Ahmed won the employment tribunal she brought against the corporation in a dispute over equal pay.

In December, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it was worth “looking at” whether to abolish the licence fee.

The government is considering whether failure to pay the TV licence fee should cease to be a criminal offence.

Both the BBC and the government came in for criticism from MPs last year after announcing free TV licences for all over-75s, would be scrapped.

“Don’t be defensive about the BBC,” Lord Hall urged staff on Wednesday, calling on them to “demonstrate why we matter”.

The 68-year-old also announced the BBC’s intention to become carbon neutral in this licence fee period, while taking on the “financial and creative might of the streamers”.

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