BBC director of factual and learning John Willis has called on the major broadcasters and indies to work together to protect regional network production centres from losing talent to London.

BBC director of factual and learning John Willis has called on the major broadcasters and indies to work together to protect regional network production centres from losing talent to London.

Willis, speaking at the Bristol regional Royal Television Society Awards last week, said healthy regional production needed a strong BBC and ITV as well as an independent sector in order to "cross-pollinate talent".

Willis said: "The health of regional network production depends upon talent - attracting and developing it. Increasingly we need to act in concert with other broadcasters to create consortia between us - BBC, ITV, Five and Channel 4 and the independent sector as well as regional agencies - to work out development plans for every key regional centre.

"To find ways of working together - on training, technology and talent - will be to the benefit of us all," he added.

Willis told Broadcasthe was currently working on a long-term strategy for the BBC's regional network factual production centres in Birmingham, Bristol and Manchester which he expected to complete by February.

"It is our intention to maintain and, if possible, strengthen centres of excellence," he said. "Frankly, it isn't easy in the economic climate of television. But to reflect Britain as a whole as a complex diverse nation, television has to include voices and views from all corners."

Granada Content chief executive Simon Shaps, who was also at the Bristol event, said he supported Willis' comments.

Willis also called on the government or Ofcom to force Sky to reinvest some of its "huge profits" back into the industry, including regional production, saying Sky was too often left out of such initiatives.