Helen Thomas announces leadership structure changes

BBC Director of England Helen Thomas says BBC Local Radio will “own local conversations and reflect life in modern England” as part of changes announced to staff today.

The leadership of BBC England will also be reworked to a structure based around platforms rather than geography.

A Head of News and Head of TV Commissioning will be appointed alongside the Head of Audio and Digital with an overall reduction in the number of senior managers.

The BBC says it will “reinvent and refresh” its offer in England – including BBC local radio and regional TV news – to ensure it is providing the best possible services to all audiences across the country.

“Continuing the work already underway to reinvent Local Radio so it owns local conversations, (Local Radio will) fully reflect the diverse communities it serves and become the front-door for new talent into the BBC, uncovering and nurturing the broadcasting stars of tomorrow,” a statement says.

Helen Thomas says: “BBC England is in a strong position. Our regional TV news bulletins at 6.30pm are collectively the most watched news programme on UK TV. Six million people listen to our local radio stations each week. People value the services we offer.

“But there are significant groups who don’t engage enough with what we do. England is changing and audience behaviour is changing too. This presents us with a challenge and an exciting opportunity.

“We’re going to reinvent and refresh what we do in England to ensure we reflect all of the country’s diverse communities while providing services in ways people want them.

“We will be about more than news – we will own local conversations and reflect life in modern England, recognising the different audience demands in different parts of the country and what that means for our output. And we will become the BBC’s front-door for new talent, the place where the broadcasting stars of tomorrow are uncovered and nurtured.”

Plans announced today also include the launch of a digital platform aimed at young audiences in England and a simplified leadership structure across the country as the BBC seeks to improve its offer to English audiences.

The proposed leadership restructure is the biggest change to the structure of BBC England in 50 years. There are currently ten head of regions and a head of digital. These posts will close. There will be six new senior editorial roles – a Head of News and a Head of TV Commissioning and four regional leads covering the North, the Midlands, the East and South East and the West and South West.

Chris Burns, who was announced in 2018 as the Head of Audio and Digital, will continue to lead local radio. It means the number of senior managers will reduce from eleven to eight.

Helen Thomas adds: “These changes will ensure we have a clear management structure. We’ll also be saving money as the number of senior managers will be reduced.

“We want to have clear leaders for all our services and operate in terms of platforms rather than geographical locations. Ultimately, this is all about providing a better experience for our audiences.”