MPs urge BBC not to scrap move North

BBC chiefs have been warned they will face an outcry from the North if they abandon their plans to move to Manchester.

One in six MPs united this week to round on director general Mark Thompson, who has threatened to scrap the plan if the Government refuses to sanction a satisfactory increase in the licence fee.

An all-party group of 110 MPs called on the BBC to honour its commitment to the 14.4 million licence fee payers in the North by pressing ahead with the plan to create a media city at Salford Quays.

"The governors of the BBC must realise their stated objectives of a BBC connected to the nations and regions and the move of significant parts of the BBC production base out of London," said the MPs.

With the Treasury said to be privately wanting to keep any increase to the inflation rate, the BBC has publicly revised downwards its bid from 2.3 per cent above inflation to 1.8 per cent.

Thompson has warned that if the settlement, due to be announced before the end of the year, is a low one, he would not be able to recommend moving 1,800 staff from the BBC's sport and other operations to a new media centre.

MPs in all parties backed the "think again" plea in a Commons motion, alerting the BBC to the prospect of a political backlash if it reneges on the commitment.

The MPs countered Thompson's claim that a low licence fee settlement would force the BBC to think again by arguing that the move would provide "significant financial and creative benefits to the corporation and deliver robust value for money".

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