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Wednesday 29 Oct 2014

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BBC North "on track" to meet big challenge

Peter Salmon, Director BBC North, and BBC Director-General Mark Thompson

BBC Director-General Mark Thompson visited MediaCityUK in Salford Quays today and declared that the new home for BBC North is on track, on budget and on schedule.

Mark Thompson also talked about how the move to MediaCityUK will help support the BBC's unprecedented focus on high-quality programmes and increasing investment in original UK content as set-out in its recent strategy review. By better drawing on the talents of the creative economies and people in the north, to further enhance the content we provide to audiences.

Mr Thompson stressed that the need for a vibrant new centre of creative excellence and innovation from the North of England is greater than ever.

Mark Thompson said: "We are on track, on budget and on schedule but the biggest challenges still lie ahead because this place is so much more than a building site.

"This is a new opportunity for thousands of people locally and nationally to come and develop their careers, find new ways to collaborate and build a world renowned centre for media expertise with the BBC providing quality programmes and content at its heart.

"Above all, it's an exciting place where amazing shows, performances and unforgettable events will happen. But we have a long way to go before we can say the BBC is playing its full part in the north, which underlines why this move to MediaCity is so important to our future.

"Our Strategy Review will bring a new focus on quality and a key way to make this happen will be to unlock talent in the north and expand opportunities. Drawing on a broader set of skills, experiences and backgrounds can only make our programmes better."

Director of BBC North, Peter Salmon, said: "We are getting prepared to fundamentally change the relationship between the BBC and the North of England. Our two thousand plus workforce based at Salford will help us do that with a host of brilliant children's, sport, entertainment, religious and learning content for television, radio and the web.

"Just as important are the independent producers we want to champion and support across the region like Red Productions in Manchester, who are making the new David Tennant drama series, Single Father; and Kay Mellor's company Rollem Productions, in Leeds, who made the current BBC One hit, A Passionate Woman – not to mention a whole season on BBC Four this autumn, The Great Northern, which sheds light on the pioneering years of Granada's Coronation Street and the history of modern northern culture.

"We are taking our first steps now preparing for our new MediaCity home, where we would like to bring about a wholesale change in the BBC's relationship with licence fee payers over the course of the decade, searching out and training northern talent for a broad range of network content.

"From summer 2011, I hope that our audiences in the region will begin to feel the impact of this shift by visiting us and our shows at the Salford site and across the patch.

"The new Doctor Who's visit and exclusive screening for local school children just a couple of weeks ago got us off to a flying start – and there is much much more of that excitement and engagement to come."

Key progress on creating BBC North includes:

All three BBC Buildings delivered on time, and on budget with work now underway to fit them out.

Several hundred new BBC jobs to be created over the next few years in the north.

Funding for creative new ideas from indie producers in the north to make Radio 5 Live (£40,000) and online children's content (£500,000).

Local BBC Outreach initiatives including Salford school children interviewing senior politicians for School Report and a 21cc classroom in Swinton.

There are more than 50 learning organisations currently linked to the new BBC North development, and staff are helping mentor and nurture new talent.

BBC Learning campaigns team including over 30 staff to now relocate alongside the formal learning team, Future Media & Technology, Children's, Radio 5 Live and Sport.

Extra programme commissioning power moving, not just through channel controllers for BBC Children's and Radio 5 Live but all BBC Comedy, Sport events and Religion & Ethics content and some daytime programmes to add to the production firepower coming north.

Across the north new content initiatives like Tracy Beaker Returns in Newcastle, Radio 5 Live's Octoberfest in Hull, the Connect and Create Conference on Teeside, The PAWS children's series from Leeds and comedy The Gemma Factor from Hebden Bridge are positive proof of a renewed focus on northern production by network programme makers.

And progress in the wider development of MediaCity, outside of the BBC includes:

New dedicated tram stop opens 2010, new bus route from 2011 linking Salford Crescent and MediaCityUK, and new footbridge.

Plans for a vibrant piazza and big screen able to hold up to 5,000 people for performances and events.

Plans to create over 15,000 jobs and £1bn additional net value to the North's economy over the next few years, according to the Regional Development Agency.

Local companies have been awarded £95 million in contracts in Salford and £236m in Greater Manchester awarded to Salford contractors. Over half of the construction workforce are from Greater Manchester and three quarters are from the North West.

A recent independent study, The Economic Impact of the BBC, showed that every £1 of the licence fee generates an addition £2 of economic value for the UK economy in addition providing programmes and content.

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