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Archives for October 2011

Proposed Changes to Local Radio

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Helen Boaden | 12:52 UK time, Tuesday, 25 October 2011

News that there is to be a Parliamentary debate in Westminster Hall tomorrow (Wednesday 26 Oct) on the proposed cuts in BBC Local Radio should come as no surprise to those who understand the passion radio engenders in the mildest of audiences. It's worth remembering that not so many years ago, Radio 4 listeners with banners of protest marched on Broadcasting House demanding that Radio 4 Long Wave transmission be protected. It was.

Today some of the seven million weekly listeners to Local Radio feel just as anxious and outraged by what they fear that the BBC may do to their beloved station of choice. Some even suspect the BBC of class warfare. I have lost count of the number of people who have complained to me about Radio 4 being protected from the cuts at the alleged expense of Local Radio. Or as one rugby league fan in Sheffield asked me fiercely: "Why are you molly coddling that network for the toffs?"

As someone who began her BBC life as a reporter at Radio Leeds and later became the Controller of Radio 4, I know and cherish both sorts of radio and am very proud of how well they serve their different audiences.

It's undeniable however that like BBC One and Children's programmes, Radio 4 is being protected against the full force of the latest round of BBC cuts. I think that's the right decision. All three embody and deliver our public service ethos in a unique way, balancing high quality popular output with programmes which the commercial market couldn't or wouldn't supply.

No service is being exactly mollycoddled. Even in Radio 4, where programme budgets are largely protected, significant behind-the-scenes savings will need to be made by finding new ways of working more efficiently. This includes a 13% reduction in network management and presentation costs and the proposed reorganisation of teams which supply Radio 4 - such as Audio & Music Production - resulting in significantly fewer posts.

In the News and Current Affairs programmes for which I am now responsible as Director of News, (Today, the World at One and File on 4, for example) we will be reducing the number of reporters and taking out 9% in further efficiencies.

Nor is it true to say that Local Radio is being picked on, though its particular circumstances may make it feel like that on the ground.

Local Radio is being asked to make savings of 12%. That's actually lower than the average savings across the rest of the BBC. However - and here's the rub - if you take out of the equation the cost of buildings and technology which are required to broadcast in 40 different local towns around England, then the cuts inevitably fall on the people who make the programmes. That's why in some stations we will be reducing teams by over 20% which no one pretends will be easy.

We are also trying to preserve what really matters to our audiences. We are focussing our resources on Breakfast and mid-morning as well as Drive, weekend mornings and Saturday sport - some 86% of the audience listens to these programmes. To enable us to protect those periods of the day, we are proposing that most of our stations share a mid-afternoon programme with their neighbours - becoming less local and more regional - for our low audience periods. We're also planning to create a shared programme across England for the evenings. Of course if a big breaking news story happens during these shared programmes, the station involved can opt out and broadcast locally again.

And we have plans to reduce our spending on local sports rights, on specialist music programmes and on some ethnic minority programmes. We will not be losing them all but from now on we will be focussing on those which have strong news and local interest.

But it is important to remember that these are still only proposals. The BBC Trust has opened a public consultation on various aspects of the BBC's plans and it will respond in due course.

Are the plans for Local Radio ideal? Not at all. In an ideal world we'd prefer to stay as local across the day as we are now. We'd like to have more, not fewer, staff. But we don't live in an ideal world, we live in this one. And in this one, despite the cuts, I believe that BBC Local Radio can survive and even thrive because it will always have its unique connection to its audiences.

By 2016 we will still have 40 BBC Local Radio stations delivering quality output to audiences who rely on us and often love us.

We have no intention of letting them down.

Helen Boaden is the BBC Director of News

Do you remember the time: Discoveries from BBC Genome project

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Helen Papadopoulos Helen Papadopoulos | 14:05 UK time, Thursday, 20 October 2011

One of the many joys of working on the Genome Project has been uncovering the connections we have with the past, the BBC and its broadcasting output. Here is a small selection of stories we have unearthed over the past few months.

Collections of time

Wallace Grevatt was an avid collector of the Radio Times and author of 'BBC Children's Hour: A Celebration of Those Magical Years'. We were able to scan many of the magazines from his collection.

A couple of weeks ago, I discovered this letter in the Radio Times from 1983, appealing for back issues of the magazines to complete his collection.

Letter in the Radio Times from 1983

Watching with nan

In preparing to write this update on the project I also talked to our quality assessment team. They have spent the past few months poring over the data 8 hours a day and I wanted to know what thoughts the project might have stirred in them. Each of us will take different things out of the past when leafing through an old edition of the Radio Times. Hours and hours of checking the data, and for her, one of the many reminders of her childhood has been reading the listings information about 'Watch With Mother', not just the programmes she watched, but a time she spent being cared for by her grandmother and watching 'Watch With Mother', not with her mother, but her nan.

Sreenshot from 'Watch With Mother'

Text about 'Watch with Mother' as found in the Radio Times

In the 1950s, the Radio Times regularly published BBC vacancies and I found this one which I sent to John Zubrzycki, BBC Research and Development. He commented: "That ad encapsulates why I wanted to become an engineer at the BBC. I wonder if it's too late to apply :-)"

Employment ad in 1957 magazine

As we progress on the project I'm sure we will find lots more gems such as these so I will be sure to share them with you next time I do a BBC Genome update.

Helen Papadopoulos is the Project Manager of BBC Genome

Can I get that on DVD?

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Roly Keating | 17:25 UK time, Monday, 17 October 2011

We're always looking to find better ways to make the BBC's back-catalogue of programmes more discoverable by our audiences. Last month I wrote here about BBC Four's move into curating online themed collections of new and archive content, and their launch collection Army: A Very British Institution has proved to be popular, with over 1 million programme views to date.

But beyond our public service collections there's a large and growing mix of shows from BBC radio and television available to buy or access on a commercial basis - whether as physical products like CDs or Blu-rays or in digital-only formats - and we want to make it easy and intuitive for audiences to track down programmes that may no longer be offered via the BBC itself but are available elsewhere. A question many TV producers have heard from viewers is, "Can I get that on DVD?".

With that in mind, we're launching today a number of improvements to the BBC Online feature previously known as Buyer's Guide. If you've used this before, you'll know that it provides a link from selected programme pages on BBC Online to retailers who offer purchasable copies of the relevant programme.

So far this has been almost entirely restricted to audiobooks based on BBC Radio shows, but we're now extending it to include DVD and Blu-Ray editions of our TV programmes as well. As of today you should find links from selected TV programme pages to around 350 different products from a variety of retailers, and the range will grow steadily from now on. To begin with we're focussing on programmes that have recently been broadcast, but over time we'll include a wider selection of older programmes.

Commercial Avaliability module

We're also changing the name to Commercial Availability: we think this describes more clearly what the feature is there to do. The look and feel has evolved too, to fit with the new overall design of BBC Online.

In Delivering Quality First we re-stated the BBC's determination to improve audiences' access to and engagement with our programmes - past, present and future - whether they're available on the BBC website or elsewhere, and today's changes represent another step in that direction. We hope you find them useful.

Roly Keating is Director of Archive Content and Executive Editor of BBC Online

Giving something to the young people

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Jon Jacob Jon Jacob | 11:00 UK time, Friday, 14 October 2011

Mollie King and Aled Haydn Jones award Alec with his prize.


Editor's note: Journalist Jacqueline Eyewe is deputy editor of Live, an online and print magazine produced by and for young people. We asked her to write a review of the Radio 1 Teen Awards.

With performances from Cher Lloyd, Jason Derulo and, of course, the scream machine generators - One Direction, Radio 1's Teen Awards were back again last Sunday with an incredible line up and even more incredible 'Teen Heroes'.

Hosted by the energetic and entertaining Mollie King and Nick Grimshaw, this year's Teen Awards once again placed important emphasis on the triumphs and inspirational stories of the young heroes in our society.

16 year-old Charlie was one of the three well-deserved winners. He showed great bravery by rescuing a six year old girl who fell into a sea drain and who was swept away by the current. Charlie dived into 7 foot deep water to save the girl, brought her back to the surface and back into the arms of her terrified parents.

The second 'Teen Hero' award went to 13 year-old Alec, who suffers from dyspraxia and Asperger's. He's also been diagnosed with cancer but has managed to raise over £2500 for cancer research, and continues to fight his battle bravely to this day.

The last award went to the incredible Pippa, who has been caring for her disabled mother and extended family since the tender age of four. Despite all her responsibilities she has still managed to volunteer for different community projects and study for her A Levels.

Pippa, Charlie and Alec all walked out on to the stage to accept their awards from Radio 1 DJs and some of the performers. The crowd at Wembley Arena greeted them with a well deserved standing ovation, reminding us all of the exceptional people that contribute to our society everyday.

As well as awarding the Teen Heroes, actors, musicians and sportsmen were nominated by their 14-17 year old fans. Winners on the night included Olly Murs, Tom Daley, The Wanted, The Inbetweeners, Ed Sheeran and Rupert Grint, who all picked up awards in the celebrity categories.

"It was amazing to see all the young people in the crowd. It was so loud and crazy. Such a great event", said Rupert Grint, winner of the Best Actor award.

With Pixie Lott headlining the show, she closed with a performance of some of her most popular hits such as Mama Do and All The Boys, which had the whole auditorium jumping and screaming for more.

Radio 1's Teen Awards brought together teenagers' favourite celebrities as well as bringing to light the stories of some extraordinary young people who are overlooked in day to day life. It's events like these that allow the UK to connect and give back something to the young people that make a difference.

Marketing and Audiences settle in at Salford

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Simon Lloyd Simon Lloyd | 09:56 UK time, Friday, 14 October 2011


Autumn is here and October sees a new season in the Marketing and Audiences function based at BBC HQ in Salford. Our newly established Media Engagement team officially started operating out of MediaCityUK on the 3rd of October. This is includes teams who are planning and managing our promotional inventory across TV, Radio, Online and CRM plus teams that manage our Shows & Tours operation and the Big Screens which are located in major towns and cities across the country. Our Marketing and Audiences teams have also been busy working with CBBC, CBeebies, Radio 5 live and BBC Sport promoting the new Autumn schedule and the start of the new football season. Monday the 26th Sept saw our first 5 live broadcast from the new studios and Saturday 8th October saw the first airing of Justin's House on CBeebies - take a look at the preview trailer. So very busy but exciting times.

We have also announced that we are reviewing our Media Services roster for the buying and strategic planning of our external media spend across traditional media and digital so I am looking forward to seeing the breadth of agency talent out there in the market as we conduct our search over the next few months.

Finally I want to offer a thank you to the Marketing Society, for hosting a dinner in Manchester and allowing me to passionately talk about the whole BBC in the North project, specifically the new Marketing operation. It was great to meet some fellow Marketing Directors based in the North of England and getting them to chew over with me some of the opportunities and challenges that face the BBC in the North. One fellow described the BBC as a big fish that has landed in Salford but an analogy that was presented to me at a recent dinner with Martin Hall, the Chancellor of Salford University is, I feel, far more apt. "The BBC is like an octopus with many tentacles to grapple with". In response I can say, "indeed we are" but at the end of each of those tentacles is a warm handshake and the route to great partnership.

Simon Lloyd is Director of Media Engagement and Marketing & Audiences, North

The new BBC Archive Centre at Perivale

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Sarah Hayes | 11:20 UK time, Thursday, 13 October 2011

The outside of the new BBC archive facility in Perivale

The BBC Archive Centre at Perivale

The BBC archive was for some years housed in a building within an industrial estate in Brentford. Eventually this building became unfit for purpose and to ensure the protection of the history within it my team and I drew up a plan to re-house the collections in a new purpose built facility in Perivale.

The BBC archive is a rich historical resource that can track the evolution of broadcasting in documents, radio programmes, television programmes, photos, sheet music and vinyl collections. It really is one of the largest broadcast archives in the world (well over 12 million items in total). It is held on multiple tape/film/sound formats and it needs to be housed in appropriate climate controlled vaults in order to prevent the tape and film stock degrading over time. The new BBC archive centre has 9 climate controlled vaults which can be individually adjusted for temperature and relative humidity. If all the racking in the vaults in Perivale was laid in a straight line it would extend for over 60 miles.

The climate controlled vaults in BBC Archive Centre at Perivale

The climate controlled vaults in BBC Archive Centre at Perivale

The archive is not just a rich record of our broadcast history. It is also a working resource that is in great demand across the BBC everyday. In fact, the service we operate delivers over 4,000 items every week around the UK for transmission, for reuse in new programmes, for research and for business use. The content continues to grow at the rate of over 6000 hours of Radio and over 1500 hours of TV each month. It is a living breathing collection that is in constant demand and is incredibly precious.

As you may have heard in a recent Guardian Technology Podcast and may also have read in posts by my colleagues across the BBC's blog network this week, we are intent on making as much of our archive content available to our audiences as possible in the coming years.

Sarah Hayes is the Controller of Information & Archives.

Retransmission fees - to pay or not to pay?

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John Tate John Tate | 18:11 UK time, Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Last week the BBC announced a plan for how it proposes to deliver its services to audiences with the licence fee frozen until 2017. These plans amount to £670m of savings which are a mixture of cuts to scope and productivity. Although we have tried hard to protect programming it was simply not possible to make these savings without having to make cuts to some of our output.

It is worth noting however that there remains one area outside the BBC's control that could deliver us substantial additional annual savings. This is the area of 'retransmission fees'.

Put simply, the BBC currently pays Sky a fee so that it can be broadcast on their platform, this was something that was agreed many years ago in order to help satellite broadcasters justify the investment they needed to build their platform. The annual cost to the BBC is £10m. The question now is whether or not this money is still flowing in the right direction. A new study due to be published shortly argues that the UK is the only country of all those examined (including the US, Canada, France, Germany and Spain) that operates in this way. When you consider that the majority of viewing time remains firmly within these networks it begins to look like the balance here may be the wrong way round.

BBC Director General Mark Thompson summed the argument up in his 2010 MacTaggart speech by quoting someone else who thinks that those who invest in content should get a better deal saying that "Asking cable companies and other distribution partners to pay a small portion of the profits they make by reselling broadcast channels, the most-watched channels on their systems, will help ensure the health of the over-the-air industry in America."

He went on "The point is a simple one [in the US] it's the free-to-air networks who invest the most in broadcast content, they're also the most popular networks in the US cable and satellite environments, so isn't it reasonable that the distributors should pay the networks a charge in return for the right to carry them? The man who made that case is Rupert Murdoch and in America he's winning the argument - Fox is now receiving distribution fees from the cable companies. So why not introduce retransmission fees in the UK as well?"

To be clear, here in the UK the BBC would not seek to be paid by Sky for the re-transmission of its content - the BBC is already funded by a universal licence fee. But if we did not have to pay Sky £10m a year we would save £50m over the remainder of the licence fee period. And that is £50m that could go back into programme making - it would for example cover all the costs that we are currently planning to take out of local radio and BBC Four combined.

John Tate is Director, Policy & Strategy, BBC.

  • BBC Genome update: Search, discovery & access

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    Helen Papadopoulos Helen Papadopoulos | 17:32 UK time, Wednesday, 12 October 2011

    Navigating the BBC's Broadcast History

    My dad is a physicist, working in quantum field theory, and he introduced me to the work of Richard Feynman at a very early age. Feynman is probably the most famous physicist after Einstein (though younger readers may prefer Brian Cox) and he managed to make some of the deepest mysteries of science accessible to us all.

    In 1981 Feynman was featured in a BBC Horizon programme called 'The Pleasure of Finding Things Out', a title that was also used for a printed collection of his essays and interviews, and I'm sure my dad will be pleased that my current work with the Genome Project will bring this and many other treasures from the BBC's past to the attention of Feynman fans and others, and give all of us a way of finding out what the BBC has been broadcasting on television and radio, all the way back to 1923.

    The Genome Project

    Genome will create a complete database of the BBC's broadcast history, giving details of every programme the BBC broadcast - or at least intended to broadcast - on radio or television since the schedule was first published in 1923. Since the information is not available electronically for most of that period we're taking a brute force approach and digitising the one complete record we do have: printed copies of the Radio Times.

    We started in 2010 with a small-scale pilot and its success convinced us that the project was technically feasible and would be value for money. As I write we've scanned over 4,500 magazines and have imaged more than 360,000 pages, so things are moving well.

    Why Are We Doing This?

    Genome will provide a database of BBC programming that will be used to support a wide variety of applications and services provided by the BBC and others, but it has a deeper value too.

    Most people find pleasure and comfort in recalling programmes which we watched on television or listened to on the radio. The BBC's broadcast output and the Radio Times reflect events and society at home and abroad, and Genome is a gateway to that past. This is not just about finding out what was on television on the day you were born, but an historical record which can enrich our knowledge of the world, discovering our past and influencing our future.

    How We Did It

    The first step was assembling the copies of the magazines themselves. As you'd expect, the BBC holds several full sets of Radio Times, including preservation copies at the BBC Written Archives centre in Caversham, but these are contained in bound volumes for reference. Rather than disbind them, we tried to acquire as many loose issues of the Radio Times as possible so that they could be scanned easily.

    Fortunately, we were able to borrow loose magazines from private collectors including an extensive collection from the 1920s. BBC Worldwide lent us the loose collection they acquired from television historian Wallace Grevatt after his death in 2003.

    Extracting the data

    Once the scanned images of the magazines had been produced, the mammoth task of capturing the text in the Radio Times could be begin.

    This is largely being done automatically, but in order for this to be feasible we had to analyse the magazine formats, layouts and channel history over the 88 year period to create rules could be applied to capture the programme listings in a meaningful way.

    We devised a schema which would house the various parts of the programme listings such as time, title, synopsis, cast, crew and so on, and doing this revealed just how complex the BBC's channel history is.

    Here is a snapshot of the pre-war 'network and nations' radio services and how they merged or were replaced. It shows both the geographical transmitter history over this period and the complexity of the data sources we were dealing with.

    Pre-war 'network and nations' radio services logs

    We also discovered that the Radio Times itself is complex due to the changing layouts and formats, but it is reasonable that editors in 1923 would not have worried about making life difficult for a team of experts trying to scan the magazines more than 80 years later.

    What We've Got

    Using optical character recognition (OCR) software to recognise the text and semantic rules to segment the information uncovered in the magazines, the data is available to us as a collection of XML (eXtensible Markup Language) files. These are not reader-friendly, so we have developed a tool that can read them and present the information in a more accessible format for checking and validation as well as allowing us to show off the amazing details of the BBC's schedule over the decades.

    A snapshot of the optical character recognition (OCR) software.

    At the moment we have received XML and searchable PDF files for six decades of the BBC's programming, a total of 2.3 million programme listings and we expect between 3 and 3.5 million programme listings by final delivery in December. We will then make it available during 2012.

    Helen Papadopoulos is the Project Manager of BBC Genome

The future of British television comedy in the north

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Peter Salmon Peter Salmon | 12:24 UK time, Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Eric Morecambe, Glenda Jackson and Ernie Wise in 'Morecambe and Wise Christmas Show' (1972)

Eric Morecambe, Glenda Jackson and Ernie Wise in 'Morecambe and Wise Christmas Show' (1972)

'Hello, my darlings'. The first television words I ever remember. Spoken by the pint-sized comic Charlie Drake. It could easily have been Captain Mainwaring's 'Stupid Boy', courtesy of the immortal Arthur Lowe or something from Hylda Baker. And let's not forget that other Hilda, Coronation Street's Hilda Ogden - my nomination for the funniest performance on British television for 50 years.

Catchphrases and comics lit up my childhood and now we are searching for next generation comedy artists. And the North is a great place to start looking.When we think of great, iconic comedic talent, a whole host of Northern names immediately spring to mind. From classic entertainers like Morecambe and Wise, Les Dawson, and of course Hylda Baker, we can chart the history of comedy through the likes of Victoria Wood, Vic and Bob, Caroline Aherne, Peter Kay to performer including John Bishop, Lee Mack, Ross Noble, Sarah Millican, and the extraordinary Steve Coogan.

It continues to provide a rich seam of new talent like promising North East comics Jason Cook and Chris Ramsay. Both of them will be in action at the Sitcom Showcase this week, where six new sitcoms will get their first outing in front of a live audience at MediaCityUK.

But it's not just on-air that the talent flourishes in the north. There are the writers as well. Great writers such as the three Alans - Bleasdale, Bennett and Ayckbourn -as well as Willy Russell, Tim Firth and John Godber to name just a very few. Some funny, others with a blacker sensibility.

Even the soaps here have humour at their heart - look at the differences between Corrie and EastEnders for example. You could never imagine someone on Albert Square proclaiming "Hey Stan look, we have two taps." God bless Hilda Ogden, they were her first words and established her life- affirming character for the next twenty-three years.

So, why is television comedy so important to people? It's simple. It makes us feel better. Cheers up the nation. Sometimes, I think it should be prescribed by the NHS!

BBC research shows that audiences in the north see humour as their 'default' setting - it's part of who they are and how they get through every day of their lives. Not an add-on or luxury item. Memorable sitcoms like Open All Hours, The Likely Lads, Bread, The Royle Family, Phoenix Nights, Dinnerladies and The League of Gentlemen, were amongst the many sitcoms with a strong Northern flavour. Yet for the BBC, comedy is the very thing that audiences we don't naturally attract, love to watch. It gives the corporation a warmth that our Reithian traditions sometimes frustrates.

So investing in comedy is one route to appeal to some parts of the UK and licence-payers we can struggle to reach. In fact, ambitious UK comedy - especially on BBC One and BBC Three - has a major role to play as part of the BBC's editorial priorities moving forward. While we meet the challenge to find the recently announced 20 percent cutbacks, we will ensure that comedy remains a priority for the BBC.

Of course the BBC doesn't have sole claim to entertaining audiences with unforgettable comedy. Granada Television in Manchester has been the home to terrific comedies across the years with shows like Nearest and Dearest, Wood and Walters and Surgical Spirit. Whilst over the Pennines, Yorkshire Television enjoyed success with the much-cherished Rising Damp as well as A Bit Of a Do and Hallelujah.

No one should underestimate the debt owed to Coronation Street here. The rich tradition of comedy characters from Ena, Minnie as well as Hilda and Stan, through to Jack and Vera, Percy and Phyllis and latterly Becky and Steve and Roy and Hayley, and Blanche of course, delivered hilarious comic dialogue amidst the pathos.

Following stints on Corrie, a number of their writers then set their sights successfully on narrative and in some cases, typically Northern bawdy and larger-than-life comedy. Paul Abbott joined Linda Green to create Shameless, Jonathan Harvey gave us Tom and Linda in Gimme Gimme Gimme and as well as the characters in Beautiful People and Carmel Morgan worked on Drop Dead Gorgeous and The Royle Family.

Other Northern talent took a different route. Victoria Wood, Steve Coogan, Peter Kay and Paul O'Grady with his alter ego Lily Savage added to the mix with their big, warm characters. And even before them, let's not forget the likes of Russ Abbott, Cannon and Ball and even the Grumbleweeds .... All part of a broader northern comedic culture.

But while it's good to reminisce and celebrate the North's comedic heritage, we also need to look forward and nurture and support emerging talent to find the next laugh.

For us at the BBC it means replacing long- runners from Last of The Summer to Two Pints of Lager. While Northern comedy is still going strong - from ITV's Benidorm to Shameless and Sirens on Channel 4 and the very promising Trollied starring the multi-talented Lancastrian Jane Horrocks on Sky - a raft of new and emerging comedy productions will also be making an appearance on viewers' screens.

We'll be making a pilot of Pearlygate, a new sitcom directed by David Jason here in Salford, and later this week we will announce and pilot six studio comedy pilots, some of which may be broadcast on BBC One, BBC Two and BBC Three. And given that comedy has a natural home here in the north, I would be incredibly chuffed if Salford became the new home of great British comedy production. As we open our big studios for business, Coronation Street moves cobble by cobble to our site and The Comedy Carpet gets rolled out at Blackpool, maybe its time got a lot more northern funny business again.

Peter Salmon is Director of BBC North

We Tell Ourselves Stories

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Tony Ageh | 10:21 UK time, Monday, 10 October 2011

Delia Derbyshire, an electronic music pioneer who worked in the BBC Radiophonic Workshop and wrote the Dr Who Theme music.

Pictured: Delia Derbyshire, an electronic music pioneer who worked in the BBC Radiophonic Workshop and wrote the Dr Who Theme music.

Being Controller of Archive Development at the BBC has given me the opportunity to explore not just our own extensive archives of TV and radio programmes, photographs, documents and old records but also introduced me to the world of museums, libraries and archives, many of which we are working with as part of the wider digital public space initiative.

While a great deal of our activity is necessarily technical and procedural, concerned with digitisation standards, rights models, data modelling and the myriad other details that will allow us to make more BBC material available to more people, I've also had the opportunity to think deeply about the role of archives and 'memory institutions' in our lives.

I drew on this when writing my speech for a recent conference, 'Telling History' that took place in Turin as part of the 63rd Prix Italia, the oldest and perhaps the most prestigious acknowledgement of expertise of broadcasters in radio, television and - since 1998 - the web.

The long history of the Prix Italia gave me an excuse to look at the way the role of broadcasters has changed over the years, and I suggested that the archives that we have all accumulated over the decades have turned us into memory institutions just like the museums, galleries and libraries that normally get labelled with that term, and that it is time for us to acknowledge this and build it into the way we work.

Download the full speech given by Tony Ageh at the 63rd Prix Italia conference.

A week of firsts for BBC North

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Peter Salmon Peter Salmon | 11:58 UK time, Tuesday, 4 October 2011

A helicopter arriving during the first Blue Peter show at BBC North in Salford


It's been a week of 'firsts' here at BBC North. Our first one hundred days on site. The first Blue Peter and R5L shows last week. The first File On Four and BBC Manchester programmes this week as well as the first students arriving at the University of Salford. And last weekend, the first visit by a Prime Minster. But more about that later.

As one journalist tweeted during last week's visit by the Broadcast Press Guild - 'I'm a Salford virgin'.

Join the club.

As we approach the half-way stage of our migration, there are now over 1,200 staff working on-site. And as more and more people arrive not only to work and study but also to be part of a studio audience or simply to enjoy live events on the piazza, there is an ever growing buzz of excitement and sense of community around the place.

Only last week, and never a programme to do things by halves, Blue Peter presenters Helen Skelton and Barney Harwood cut a dash as they arrived for their first show from Salford Quays. While Barney cruised down the Manchester Ship Canal on a jet ski, Helen touched down in the piazza courtesy of a Royal Navy Sea King helicopter. Joined by Barney the dog in their new, purpose-built studio, this marked an exciting start to the next chapter in Blue Peter's fifty-three year history.

Later that same evening, Tony Livesey's lively late night Radio 5 live programme also began broadcasting live from Quay House. Tony and his team had been based in our offices down the road in Oxford Road for a while so it was good to welcome them to their new home and also Stephen Nolan and his colleagues who arrived successfully over the weekend too - his broadcast from a Wigan A and E unit was outstanding. During the next few weeks we look forward to welcoming the rest of Radio 5 live to Quay House.

And tonight File on 4 - one of my old shows - go live from Salford. This flagship BBC Radio 4 series has a long and proud history in the North West of England, having been made in Manchester since it was first commissioned 34 years ago. And next weekend BBC Manchester itself will begin broadcasting live from the site, marking a real milestone in making MediaCityUK the new home for news both for the North West as well as the whole of the UK. That will really feel like a special moment.

Barney, Helen, Tony, Stephen and Gerry join a growing list of presenters and programmes broadcasting live from here joining Football Focus as well as the presenters of CBBC and CBeebies. And currently in the studios we have Justin Fletcher charming an audience of excitable pre-schoolers with his antics in his brand new series, Justin's House. Following in the footsteps of entertainment studio pioneers MasterMind and Question of Sport who were recording earlier this summer.

And it's a week of political firsts too. Not only do we have Young People's Question Time for BBC3 and BBC One's Question Time ahead of us this week, but the Prime Minister was interviewed here live on the Andrew Marr Show.

During his visit and speaking on the programme, David Cameron was clear on his support for what we are doing here in the North of England. He commented on the show that it was a "really good thing" that the BBC was investing in a new creative hub here in the region, along with our neighbours ITV.

Getting programmes to air and votes of encouragement balance the more ridiculous claims that continue to be levelled against us. In the last week alone we've been accused of everything from fostering Cheshire love nests to increasing the divorce rate and even banning telephones in our buildings. How silly these claims seem in comparison to what we are actually achieving.

Yet while we all know that there is still a great deal more to be done, I feel really proud of everything that has been achieved so far. We have done so much with great teamwork - more than 1,200 of us in the North team so far, each one playing their part.

Now I wonder if I can get a ride on that jet ski?

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