News and Sport at BBC North

Thursday 21 February 2013, 15:13

Peter Salmon Peter Salmon Director, England

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News and Sport are two of the key ingredients here at BBC North. With over 500 journalists on-site, we are the biggest journalism hub outside London and MediaCityUK is, of course, also the home of BBC Sport.

On Tuesday we announced the appointment of Jonathan Wall as the new Controller of BBC Radio 5 live. Jonathan started his career at BBC Radio Humberside before joining Radio 5 live. He was deeply involved in successfully moving the station to MediaCityUK and pivotal in BBC Radio 5 live and its digital channels sports extra and 5 live Olympics Extra's role in the BBC’s record-breaking coverage of the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics, delivering nearly 8 million listeners over the summer.

R5l’s blend of top quality journalism and outstanding sports coverage has resulted in sixteen consecutive quarters with over six million listeners, so he takes up the reins at an exciting time in the station’s evolution. As well as continuing to deliver outstanding and award-winning journalism from the likes of Breakfast, Drive, Victoria Derbyshire, Shelagh Fogarty and Tony Livesey among others, the station’s sports coverage is second to none.

R5l's role in the BBC’s coverage of the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and the Football World Cup in Brazil will be crucial to us and its current Six Nations output - more international rugby this weekend - is part of a sporting calendar of over 20 sports including Premier League football, Test Match Cricket and everything from athletics to American football. This week, for instance, R5l sports extra is also joining forces with BBC Two to cover the Track Cycling World Cup from Minsk including a British team featuring six Olympic champions. Definitely worth tuning in for and many of them live in our region too.

This week R5l also announced a new deal to bring horse racing coverage to its listeners through to 2016. Starting with the Cheltenham Festival next month, the existing presenters and pundits are joined by respected racing broadcaster Derek Thompson, Gold Cup-winning jockey Andrew Thornton and Paralympian Kate Grey.

Yet BBC Radio 5 live is only part of our journalism story. Every day our news and current affairs teams based in Salford cover stories for our audiences from across the North of England, the UK and the world. BBC Breakfast, BBC Radio Manchester, BBC Sports News and BBC Children's Newsround as well as our news and current affairs teams add to the BBC’s comprehensive mix of in-depth reporting on television, radio and online. 

File on 4, based in Salford for Radio 4, recently reported on the world’s biggest plutonium stockpile at Sellafield and next week looks at the continuing impact of flooding across the UK.

And as BBC Breakfast moves steadily to its first anniversary it has confounded all those who said it wouldn't work here. Not only has it maintained both its audience volume and high audience appreciation score, but it has also attracted a wide range of guests - from Bradley Cooper and Stephen Poliakoff to George Osborne and Adam Ant - onto its sofa in Salford on a regular basis.

I suppose I should see the irony that originally some people were saying that we wouldn't get anyone to Salford and now - a year later - those same people are criticising us for getting so many people to Salford for interviews across all our news outlets, but not wanting to understand that we have to meet the cost of getting them here. That's the story for BBC services everywhere - not just Salford.

Yet if there is one programme to watch this week it is the Inside Out made by our Yorkshire and Lincolnshire team. They filmed the emotional meeting between Trevor Hicks, who lost both his daughters – Victoria and Sarah - in the Hillsborough disaster and the South Yorkshire policeman who tried to save Victoria. The two men had never met before and Inside Out was privileged to witness their first meeting twenty-five years after that tragic day.

It is programme making of this calibre that reminds me of the importance and quality of local, regional and network journalism on the BBC. We are very proud so much now comes from our new Northern home.

Peter Salmon is Director of BBC North.

Follow @BBCNorth on twitter.

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