Atholl Duncan comments on the BBC London-Salford debate

Former senior BBC executive and The Drum blogger, Atholl Duncan has commented on what he thinks about the plans to move the BBC to Salford and out of London.

My flabber is well and truly gasted. Are we really to believe that moving more of our TV and radio programmes out of London is such a terrible thing ?

Hardly a week passes without further outrage being expressed about the BBC shifting Breakfast News, Five Live and BBC Sport to Manchester. There was similar ranting from inside Zones 1 and 2 of the London Underground when it was decided that “Question Time” would be produced from Glasgow – an issue which I was personally involved in as a BBC News Exec.

Now Ivan Lewis, the Shadow Culture Secretary, has made a forceful contribution. He’s branded those who oppose such moves as living in the dark ages with outdated prejudices. Although, admittedly, as the local MP for Bury South, he is no neutral.

I have great sympathy with the personal impact of what’s happening. I understand how individuals may not want to risk their domestic equilibrium, interrupt their children’s education, disrupt a spouse’s career or take any gamble in the property market right now. But that does not mean the policy is wrong.

Look at the positive impact of Dr Who to the creative industries in Cardiff. The whining of those who didn’t up sticks and move west has long been forgotten.

I have no quibble with the decisions of individual stars. They are free to do what they want and should not be pilloried for what they decide.

Let’s face it, every presenter or producer who doesn’t move north creates the potential for a new star to be born, perhaps with a different accent. So, let’s not complain.

Here are five truths underpinning why this must be done.

1. British TV, radio and media is far too London centric.

2. Those who oppose these moves are only protecting their own cosy metropolitan media consensus.

3. 85% of the UK population lives outside London. Many are poorly served by the current arrangements.

4. The creativity of our media will be enhanced with new talent and a different perspective.

5. We need to grow the creative economies right across the UK.

On Moving to Salford, Ivan Lewis MP says “This move should be seen as the ‘high speed media link’ between north and south, not an opportunity to perpetuate a backward-looking north-south divide,”

He adds, “The critics should be challenged not only for their prejudice but a small-minded, limiting view of Britain as London plus the rest. Their memories do not stretch to the halcyon days of the Manchester Guardian or the great pioneers who founded Granada TV.”

So, I urge readers of the Drum website to come together as a digital flash mob whether you are in London or out of London. Instead of focusing on the negatives, let’s look at the positives and the opportunities.

There is life outside London.

To visit Atholl Duncan's blog and see his views on other issues, click here.

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