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BBC South's area within the UK
|Radio stations||BBC Radio Berkshire|
BBC Radio Oxford
BBC Radio Solent
Isle of Wight
West Sussex (majority)
eastern and central Dorset
a small part of eastern Gloucestershire
|Nation||BBC English Regions|
(Head of Regional
& Local Programmes)
BBC South is the BBC English Region serving southern Northamptonshire, Oxfordshire, Hampshire, Isle of Wight, the majority of West Sussex, eastern and central Dorset, a small part of eastern Gloucestershire, western Berkshire and parts of Buckinghamshire, Surrey and Wiltshire.
BBC South's television output (broadcast on BBC One) consists of its flagship regional news service BBC South Today (including an opt-out service for viewers served by the Oxford transmitter), the topical magazine programme Inside Out and a weekly half-hour Sunday Politics.
The region also produces and broadcasts occasional regional documentaries, the latest examples being Titanic – Southampton Remembers and Sea City. The former, broadcast in April 2012, looks at the impact of the disaster on Southampton, where most of the ships staff were recruited while Sea City looks behind the scenes at Southampton Docks and was broadcast in January 2013 with a second series in March 2014.
Radio Solent, BBC Radio Oxford and Radio Berkshire broadcast between 5 am and 1 am with local programming broadcast between 5 am and 7 pm on weekdays. The three stations carry networked programming with the two stations in the BBC South East region every evening. The stations also simulcast overnight programming from BBC Radio 5 Live each night after closedown.
BBC South also produces regional news & local radio pages for BBC Red Button and BBC Local websites for each county.
The BBC's television news operation in Southampton began on 5 January 1961 with the launch of South at Six, presented by Martin Muncaster, who had defected from Southern Television. The programme was later renamed as South Today. In 1967, Bruce Parker joined BBC South and went on to become its longest-serving presenter, anchoring South Today for over 30 years.
In 1969, South Today became part of Nationwide, with its own opt-out section of the main programme for local news. In 1984, following the end of the short-lived Nationwide replacement Sixty Minutes, South Today became a standalone programme, competing heavily ever since with the now-defunct TVS's news programme Coast to Coast and the present incumbent ITV News Meridian.
The region itself has changed in size and shape on a few occasions. On 16 October 2000, areas served by the Oxford transmitter were transferred from the large former BBC South East region, served by news programme Newsroom South East, and transferred to an opt out of the BBC South region served by South Today. Additionally, following the digital switchover of the Whitehawk Hill transmitter on 7 March 2012, Brighton and Hove transferred to the coverage of BBC South East.
Prior to moving to the current studios in 1991, BBC South was based next to the disused Southampton Terminus railway station at South Western House, a former grand hotel set up to cater for first class passengers using the transatlantic liners from Southampton and latterly used as a military HQ during the planning of the D-day landings. The building was famed for its clear views of Southampton docks, making events such as the departure of the Queen Mary easy to film, as cameras only had to set up on the roof of the building, though the technology used at South Western House was famed for its unreliability, as most of this equipment was second hand and brought in from other BBC buildings. The introduction of colour television in the early 1970s led to a major reconstruction of the building, which had a main studio (used largely for South Today) and a small presentation studio for news bulletins and continuity – unusually, the camera for the small studio was situated in the outside corridor and looking into the room.
In 1991, BBC South moved into new, purpose-built facilities at Havelock Road in Southampton. The new studios were built on to the side of the hill at the top of the city with the railway tunnel running directly underneath. This slope meant that the new television studios were far larger than the previous ones, as they could take up vast amounts of space on a lower level. The new facilities also included brand new equipment and technology, radio studios for BBC Radio Solent and editing suites.
The extra space was because BBC South, at the time, was one of the new regional production centres. Previously production centres had been in the large regions with studio facilities, these being the nations, BBC Midlands, BBC North West and BBC West. However, some smaller production centres were being trialled in the South and the North East. As a result, the new studio was made slightly larger so that it could accommodate a network production. When the BBC decided to reduce regional productions as a cost-cutting measure, the fact that BBC South's studio was not too large meant that it was allowed to remain open, unlike many of the other studios and production centres.
The complex has two studios. Studio A, the larger is used for South Today and is audience capable, while Studio B, the smaller is occasionally used by South Today and was originally used for the Oxford opt-out. It is currently used as a meeting room.