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BBC unveils director who will oversee local news expansion

Jason HortonThe BBC has unveiled the director who will oversee its controversial new local news expansion plans.

Jason Horton has been appointed director of production for BBC local services across England.

Jason’s appointment comes after the corporation announced in October plans to create 11 investigative reporting teams across the country, to be staffed by 71 new journalists.

An estimated 60 further journalism roles are also set to be created as part of plans to increase the BBC’s daily online news provision for 43 local areas.

Jason, pictured, will lead BBC local production teams across news and audio – and will also oversee the new BBC’s new local strategy.

The strategy has proved controversial because it also envsiages the loss of 139 roles due to the introduction of increased programme-sharing across its network of 39 local radio stations in England.

Regional publishers have questioned why the BBC is scaling down established local radio services to invest in online provision in areas which they claim are already well-covered by commercial operators.

Jason, who is currently the BBC’s director of local production and has been acting director of BBC England for the past year, said: “I have dedicated my entire career to the BBC’s local services across England and it’s a real privilege to take on this new role.

“Our connection with local audiences has never been more important and I’m looking forward to working closely with – and supporting – our superb local teams across England as we introduce the new plans.”

Jason started his career as a BBC regional news trainee in 1999 and has since gone one to become managing editor of BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, head of regional and local programming at BBC South and the BBC’s head of East and South East.

His begins his new role with immediate effect and will report to Rhodri Talfan Davies, BBC director of nations.

Rhodri said: “Jason is an outstanding leader and has been a passionate champion of the BBC’s local services for many years.

“As an accomplished regional leader over many years, he is expertly placed to lead the modernisation of our services over the coming months.”