Former Panorama executive producer and BBC One and Two commissioner Aisling O’Connor has been appointed Head of TV Commissioning for BBC England.

O’Connor, currently the senior editorial policy adviser for BBC News and Current Affairs, has been given the new role created as part of a revamp of the BBC’s services in England.

She will oversee BBC England’s non-news TV portfolio including long-running current affairs programme Inside Out. She will also develop opportunities to commission more TV and online content for English audiences by working with other parts of the BBC.

BBC England includes all the BBC’s regional and local services in the English regions such as local radio and regional TV.

The Head of TV Commissioning role for BBC England was created to develop a new approach to content commissioning for TV and online and to deliver content across other genres. Currently the BBC only broadcasts current affairs or light factual programmes aimed specifically at audiences in the English regions.

O’Connor said: “I’m looking forward to working across England, delivering content which reflects the lives and stories of our diverse audience, from Hull to Hastings, Newcastle to Newquay.”

Helen Thomas, Director of BBC England, said: “We’ve created this role to work within the BBC to find opportunities to create more content for people in England across a broader range of genres.

“With her huge network of contacts, and excellent relationships with senior people across the industry, Aisling brings a wealth of experience, enthusiasm and innovation that will help deliver content that appeals to English audiences and reflects communities right across the country.”

The creation of the Head of TV Commissioning post was announced in January as part of a senior leadership restructure in BBC England. Work continues to complete the new leadership team with interviews for other key roles ongoing.

Stephanie Marshall, a senior BBC journalist and former BBC Breakfast assistant editor, started as the Head of the West and South West Region this week. In her new role, she will have operational responsibility for the BBC’s services in the South West and West.

Stephanie Marshall said: “I was born in Bath and have worked as a journalist in the West for years. I’m absolutely committed to ensuring the BBC serves all audiences across this diverse part of the country and reconnects with people who currently aren’t engaged with our services.”

There were previously ten head of regions and a head of digital in BBC England. These posts have closed and been replaced by six new senior editorial roles; a Head of News, the 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, continues to lead local radio. The number of senior managers in BBC England has reduced from eleven to eight.

Helen Thomas said: “The appointment of Aisling and Stephanie are a big step forward as they will help us reinvent and refresh what we do in England. We want to 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.”

Staff Reporter

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