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BBC Investment: Nations and Regions

Volume 626: debated on Thursday 29 June 2017

I regularly engage with the BBC on a range of issues, including its plans to serve audiences in the nations and regions. I am confident that the BBC is committed to supporting the creative economies in each nation.

The Secretary of State will be well aware of how proud I am that Cardiff South and Penarth is home to the Tardis, Torchwood, Cwmderi, Holby City’s A&E department, and so many others. We have had fantastic investment from the BBC in both the city centre and my constituency. Does she agree, however, that there needs to be more focus on ensuring that jobs and opportunities go to local people, particularly those living in deprived communities around those industries? We need to be getting everybody into the creative industries, which are a way of growing our economy.

The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right. The creative industry is one of our great strengths in this country. It can bring high-quality, high-value jobs to the nations and regions. As I said in answer to the previous question, I met the director-general and the chair of the BBC on Monday to discuss exactly that point.

12. BBC Radio has begun a commissioning process to tender 60% of eligible network radio by 2022, and there are concerns that programmes currently produced at MediaCity could be lost to our region. What assurances can the Secretary of State give that regional voices will be protected in the tendering process? (900085)

I agree with the hon. Lady. MediaCity is such a great success story. The fact that more people are employed in MediaCity at Salford quays than in its heyday as a major port is a great example of how creative and new industries can bring wealth to the nations and regions. As I said in answer to a previous question, I have discussed the matter with the chair and director-general and will continue to do so.

Over the election campaign there was minimal coverage of Northern Ireland constituencies, which for many underlined the view that the BBC’s regional coverage in Northern Ireland is sub-par. What can be done to increase the resources for the BBC’s engagement with Northern Ireland representatives, to ensure that they match those of other regions across the United Kingdom of Northern Ireland and Great Britain?

I refer to my previous answers. If the hon. Gentleman has concerns about the coverage during the election period, I urge him to put them to Ofcom, which is now the BBC regulator, so that it can look into them.