Peter Salmon BBC interview with UKFast: Part 1 Why Manchester?
ONE OF the most ambitious projects ever undertaken by the BBC – to develop a northern HQ in an aspiring city west of Manchester – attracted thousands of column inches and has been the subject of often fierce debate.
AS PLANS to relocate some of the Corporation’s biggest and most popular departments took shape in 2010, it became clear that 1,500 staff would need to move to Salford, joining 750 BBC employees from the old Manchester base in the purpose- built MediaCity complex.
Some London-based staff refused to switch and opponents of the BBC North project slated it as a colossal waste of money, accusing it of being a political, rather than an economical, decision. As Director of BBC North, the buck stopped with Peter Salmon.
“I care more about our actual achievements and our new ambitions rather than critics,” he says.
“We’ve already delivered big things here – on time and under budget. The Winter Olympics, the London 2012 Olympics; we’re about to tackle the World Cup and Commonwealth Games this summer. Radio 5 Live is Sony’s Station of the Year; CBeebies is the Bafta Kids Station of the Year. We’ve launched the CBeebies app with two million downloads, the BBC Sport app with three million downloads, and the first 6Music festival was a resounding success next door in Trafford. That tells you a lot.”
It’s an impressive list and the metrics back it up. Audience consumption and approval levels are higher in the north of the country than they were before the move – a region which has historically felt somewhat disenfranchised from the Corporation.
The BBC has also benefitted financially from the move, with the BBC’s Sports Department achieving £2million worth of production and cost savings since moving to Salford.
“The most important thing is that we measure ourselves against what the audiences feel about us,” says Salmon.
“People are watching and listening to our programmes more and becoming even more engaged with the BBC. They are the clear and quantifiable results that show we are getting things right.”
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