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BBC to shift programming out of London

LONDON - The BBC is moving production of several programmes such as 'The Weakest Link' and 'Newsnight Review' to the regions over the next two years as it attempts to shed its London-centric image.

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The shift is part of a larger vision to increase the BBC's out-of-London network programme spending by 50% by 2016 with the building of production centres around the UK, including Glasgow, Cardiff, Belfast, Bristol, Salford and Birmingham.

Last year a consultation showed that loyalty to the BBC dropped the further away viewers lived from London.

Sir Michael Lyons, the new BBC chairman, announced that 1,500 jobs would be moved from the capital to Salford in a new state-of-the-art media city by 2011.

Pending final approval, 'The Weakest Link' and 'Newsnight Review' will move to Glasgow along with other programmes such as 'Question Time' and 'Motorway Cops'.

However, the presenter of 'Question Time' David Dimbleby may leave the programme in protest at the move away from Westminster, which he has lambasted as "politically correct".

Jana Bennett, director of BBC Vision, said: "We're confident that these measures will result in strong and thriving arts departments in both Glasgow and London."

Network spend in Glasgow will encompass 9% of the overall BBC budget, up from the current 3.3%`

'Casualty', 'Crimewatch' and 'The One Show' will be based out of Cardiff.

Episodes of 'Panorama' and the Sunday morning religious slot will be produced in Belfast.

Budget spend in Wales and Northern Ireland will increase to 5% and 3% respectively.

Birmingham will take on production of the Chelsea and Hampton Court flower shows, joining the BBC's other horticultural programming.

Last year, the BBC announced the creation of a new media centre in Salford at MediaCityUK.

Five key London departments will move to Salford - BBC Children's, including CBBC and Cbeebies; BBC Sport; BBC Formal Learning; parts of BBC Future Media & Technology, and BBC Radio Five Live.

Bennett added: "Our intention is nothing less than changing the very DNA of the BBC to bring the production of programmes closer to the audience we serve. That means permanently increasing the production and commissioning of programmes outside London."

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