Sunday, 25 July 2010

BBC move to Salford gets a fisking

The BBC's desertion of Shepherd's Bush for Salford (pictured) is a politically correct dogs dinner with Ministry of Defence sized budgets. So says Peter Preston in today's Observer:

Forget BBC salaries, pensions and perks for a moment. All such stuff – whipped up by critics with an agenda of their own – grows weary in the repetition. Let's concentrate instead on high principle, strategy, bricks and mortar. Ah! Now there's a proper tangle.

In only a couple of years, the corporation will have finished building the biggest multimedia newsroom in the world (in London's Portland Place, not New York), the most sumptuous, state-of-the-art waterside complex going (in Salford, not LA), and another quayside broadcasting HQ that runs it pretty close (in Glasgow, not Miami). Total cost for these three huge projects: somewhere over £2bn and still rising. Ministry of Defence-sized figures

Yet, as the BBC comes under further political assault, it's salutary to go back in time and see how this cash mountain came to be spent (with a lot of help from the regulators and politicians). A new Scottish centre? Of course. A sort-of-free and half-independent Scotland expects nothing less. When a giant stride to Salford was announced five years ago, taking children's programming, sport, Radio Five Live and research and development with it, north-west MPs queued up to welcome jobs and investment outside London – while ministers, governors and trustees waxed eloquent about serving a greater Britain far beyond WC1.

As for the old wreck of Broadcasting House, rendered cutting edge with umpteen studios and integrated news-gathering (as Shepherds Bush and Bush House go to meet other development fates), well, that is a slightly grandiose project to be sure: but doing nothing seemed a decrepit, non-viable alternative.

Now read on.

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