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Thursday, January 18, 2007

"Salford calling"

On Simon Mayo's Five Live show yesterday talking about the future for record shops in the light of the feature in the current issue of Word. Usually Simon broadcasts from Shepherd's Bush but on certain days (such as Prime Minister's Question Time) the show is done from the BBC's very busy studio in Millbank, just across the road from Parliament. Now today, in the light of the licence fee settlement, I hear Mark Thompson talking on Simon's programme and insisting that the BBC's planned move to Salford will go ahead. Paul Fox popped up to point out that since the Olympics is coming to London and politics is based in London, this seems like a funny time to be moving everything to Manchester. Broadcasters are always talking big about the need to decentralise. It's a good way to drum up backing from government. Everybody approves in principle but nobody approves in practice apart from the people who happen to live at the new location. Ask Malcolm Gerrie how hard it was to get acts to travel to Newcastle to appear on The Tube. Given that and the fact that the senior management and top talent at the BBC will simply find a way to avoid going, I don't believe it will ever happen. If the BBC has to move a studio across London in order to be nearer to a power centre, how much sense does it make to move so much of its operations two hundred miles away from the hub of finance, the media, government and show business? And I know it's not fair but this country is too small to decentralise and too crowded to cross.