Quango puts £50m into BBC's Manchester move

By Caitlin Pike

The Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA) has committed £50m
to the BBC’s planned part-relocation to Manchester a week before the
corporation’s governors meet to discuss the move in more detail.

In an open letter to culture secretary Tessa Jowell, NWDA chairman
Bryan Gray confirmed the agency’s backing and called for swift progress
to be made in developing and implementing the project.

The agency
has committed, along with partners including Manchester City Council,
an investment of £50m to help with issues such as staff training and
development.

Gray wrote: “The media sector in Manchester and the
north west has the potential to be world class. As well as being home
to ITV Granada, there is a huge range of key independent media
operators, excellent production facilities and creative talent that the
BBC will benefit from.

“I firmly believe that the vitality and
innovation of the north west’s media and creative industries will be
enormously boosted by the presence of the BBC and its important role in
commissioning programmes and services.”

The BBC announced plans
in December 2004 to move key areas such as sport, Radio FiveLive and
five extra, new media and children’s television to Manchester by 2010
as part of its Building Public Value initiative.

“In total the
move could cost the BBC around £600m and its realisation in part
depends on the corporation’s licence fee settlement, to be announced by
the Government in spring 2006.”

The NWDA, which is responsible
forthe sustainable economic development and regeneration of the north
west, claim the development of a strengthened BBC presence is critical
for the region’s economy and brings with it a potential 4,400 jobs and
a £1.5bn boost for the regional economy over 10 years.

Gray
added: “The development of a strengthened BBC presence in the north
west would have a huge impact on our economy and employment
opportunities. It is crucial that we make swift progress in securing
the most imaginative, deliverable, cost effective and beneficial
proposal with a definitive timetable for implementation.”

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