'A big idea' for Ally Pally

By Caitlin Pike

Alexandra Palace, the birthplace of British television, is a step
closer to securing its future as a pioneering “media campus” for the UK.

Ofcom has agreed to host a crossindustry brainstorming session next
month to develop the idea of creating a centre for media business,
training, education and development. Organisations attending the
session include the BBC, Sky, Channel 4, ITV, the British Film
Institute, the National Museum of Photography, Film and Television and
the Newspaper Publishers’ Association. The event will be hosted by
Richard Hooper, deputy chair of Ofcom.

Two years ago Greg Dyke,
as director general of the BBC, agreed to share the cost of a
feasibility study with the Alexandra Palace charitable trust to try to
find a use for the south-east wing of the seven-acre building, which is
in a serious state of decay. In 1935, the BBC leased the eastern part
of the palace and preparations began for the historic inauguration in
1936 of the world’s first television service, invented by John Logie
Baird.

The study recognised that the whole site had enormous
potential for the media while retaining its original purpose as an
accessible “palace of the people”.

The current director general
of the BBC, Mark Thompson, is also behind the project. He said: “Early
BBC engineers helped to make a big idea work at Alexandra Palace in
1936. It would be fitting, nearly 70 years on, if we could help bring
the industry behind another big idea that underlines the continuing
role of the British media as a standardsetter for broadcasters
everywhere.”

The project was put on hold after the relaxing of
the gaming laws meant a casino was proposed for the site. Now the
prospect of a casino has receded, Ofcom has become involved.

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