Northern Ireland

£11m funding for BBC Northern Ireland announced

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Media captionA selection of work by BBC News NI's digital team

The BBC is to invest more than £11m of additional funding into services in BBC Northern Ireland over the next three years, it has announced.

It is the BBC's biggest investment in Northern Ireland for 20 years.

The investment will be used by BBC NI to transform its digital output across news, sport and other areas.

It will also be used to produce more ambitious drama, factual and comedy content on BBC1 NI and boost its service to younger audiences.

Over the next three years, the additional funding will be used for:

  • An enhanced digital service from BBC News NI, with improved news coverage throughout the day and weekends
  • Greater coverage of local sport online, including live streaming of events across a range of sports
  • A 50% increase in commissioning spend on local television content
  • New digital content and services for younger audiences and new digital investment in radio
  • New content to mark major historical anniversaries in Northern Ireland

"This is great news for BBC Northern Ireland, but more importantly, great news for audiences," said BBC director general Tony Hall.

"It will transform our digital output - for news and sport and more.

"It means more drama, factual and comedy content. All things we know the public love and want from the BBC.

Analysis: Robbie Meredith, BBC News NI Arts Correspondent

The most recently published accounts for BBC NI show the BBC's income in Northern Ireland was £99m in 2015/16.

However, only £73.4m was spent by the BBC in Northern Ireland in 2015/16.

Lord Hall denied that meant that local audiences were being short-changed.

"What we're doing is trying to make a balance," he said.

"But part of what they're paying for is the fact you've got an entire BBC that you're paying for, so they're paying for the sports rights for the FA Cup, for the world service, for the entirety of the UK's output of the BBC."

The increase in investment in Northern Ireland follows similar announcements in Scotland and Wales.

In February, the BBC said it would create a new Scottish TV channel at a cost of £30m and invest an additional £20m in TV programmes in Scotland.

Meanwhile, the corporation also recently announced an extra £8.5m a year for English language television programmes for Wales.

Image caption BBC director general Tony Hall said the funding was great news for Northern Ireland

The BBC has also renewed its partnership agreement with Northern Ireland Screen, as they work together to invest in developing an internationally competitive screen industry in Northern Ireland.

That commits the BBC to spending at least three per cent of its network television budget in Northern Ireland.

A number of BBC children's programmes have also been made locally under the agreement, including the Cbeebies series Pablo, whose central character is a five-year-old boy on the autistic spectrum.

Image caption More sports events will be streamed live as a result of the funding

Among the successes of the first agreement, which was signed in 2015, were:

  • Dramas Line Of Duty and The Fall
  • Children's programming including Millie Inbetween and Pablo
  • The trainee scheme Aim High, which seeks to provide transformative opportunities for new talent in the industry

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