BBC backtracked on relocating Concert Orchestra out of London as 'it didn't make sense' economically

Concerns have been raised over cuts to BBC local radio servicesConcerns have been raised over cuts to BBC local radio services
Concerns have been raised over cuts to BBC local radio services
Tim Davie told MPs about axing plans to move the BBC Concert Orchestra out of London and plans for local radio.

The BBC backtracked on relocating its Concert Orchestra out of London as it "didn't make sense" economically, Tim Davie has said.

The director-general was addressing Parliament's Public Accounts Committee today (19 February) about the BBC’s implementation of the Across The UK policy. This is the corporations strategy for delivering for the entire country, which includes "investing in local creative economies beyond London to improve talent development".

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However, in June, the corporation announced that it would not move the BBC Concert Orchestra outside London as originally planned. This would have transferred £23 million of spending outside the capital. Speaking on the decision, Davie said: “If you forecast every change early on when you started the programme, you’re going to hit one or two areas where you can’t deliver…

“We did the case, and it just didn’t make sense. The economic viewpoint of our detail, when you got into that £23 million, it didn’t make sense based on what we’ve got in East Bank.”

BBC Director-General Tim Davie appeared at The Fire Station.BBC Director-General Tim Davie appeared at The Fire Station.
BBC Director-General Tim Davie appeared at The Fire Station. | PA

The BBC is creating new music studios, due to open in Stratford East Bank in London in 2025, which will host music sessions for the broadcaster. He added: “We are now looking at what other things we can do in the field of audio to fill that gap, and we’re confident we can do it.”

Davie said the broadcaster was dealing with "enormous challenges" of high inflation amid changes to the licence fee. He also explained that he plans to keep “all the local radio services” as the corporation continues to implement cost-saving measures.

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"Local radio is utterly precious, I don’t want to go backwards on that. We’re doing all we can to protect that," Davie said. “But the idea that we’re the only company in the media world that doesn’t offer our services online, I think is wrong, and that’s where we’ve tried to get the balance right.”

Proposed plans for local radio stations to share more content and transmit fewer programmes unique to their areas resulted in BBC local journalists taking strike action last year.

Addressing the plans, Davie added: “We’re pushing more of the network output so it gets closer to you… you connect with it. Separately we have very clear targets which we want 50% of the population to be getting value from our local and regional services.

“We have reallocated money under enormous budgetary pressures… We’ve reallocated money from radio to online… but we have not taken money out of local, we’ve reallocated.”

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Ralph Blackburn is NationalWorld’s politics editor based in Westminster, where he gets special access to Parliament, MPs and government briefings. If you liked this article you can follow Ralph on X (Twitter) here and sign up to his free weekly newsletter Politics Uncovered, which brings you the latest analysis and gossip from Westminster every Sunday morning.

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