BBC North provides 'genuine counterweight' to London

BBC North boss defends site against recent report questioning its impact
By Jenny Priestley ,

BBC North director Alice Webb has said the Manchester-based site provides a "genuine counterweight" to the corporation's London operations following a recent report questioning its impact.

In August, think tank Centre for Cities published a report stating that while the BBC's move to Salford had led to a jobs boom at MediaCityUK, it had had minimal impact on employment across the wider city region.

In an interview with Insider, Webb said MediaCityUK "wouldn't have got off the ground without the BBC."

"You don't develop property like this speculatively on the basis that somebody might come along and take that space. We were the anchor tenant, we still are the anchor tenant, and we take that responsibility very seriously," said Webb.

MediaCityUK is home to programmes such as BBC BreakfastMatch of the DayNewsround and Blue Peter, as well as several key assets including the iPlayer, Bitesize and the BBC Homepage. Around 600 digital engineers are also based at the Manchester complex.

Webb said: "I think we create a really healthy, happy counterweight to London. Let's not be naïve, the gravitational pull of London is strong, but that's why it was really important that the BBC created something of scale here that means we are a genuine counterweight, and that's why we have 35,000 hours of content coming from here every year.

"We're not an outpost, we're not back-office function. We are absolutely audience-facing and many of the new things that the BBC is creating are coming from here. We're a fabulous complement and counterweight to London."

Webb also pointed out, that apart from London and Manchester, the BBC also has production hubs in Belfast, Birmingham, Cardiff and Glasgow. The corporation is the "British Broadcasting Corporation not the London Broadcasting Corporation", she said.