The BBC’s new head of radio has said he is confident enough staff will make the move from London to Greater Manchester when rolling news and talk station FiveLive heads north in 2011.
In his first public speech since he started in the role of BBC director of audio and music last month, Tim Davie defended the BBC’s decision to uproot a number of key BBC departments to the new MediaCity complex in Salford.
FiveLive, BBC Sport, children’s programming, parts of the future media and technology team and the current BBC Manchester operation will all be based in the new facilities, which are currently being built.
Senior BBC staff have until 30 April next year to decide whether they are willing to relocate. Middle-ranking staff must decide by 30 June, with the rest given a 30 September deadline.
“It’s too early to know exactly how many people will move because they don’t have to make a decision for the next year,” Davie told the Voice of the Listener and Viewer autumn conference in London this afternoon.
“FiveLive has a different tone of voice [to the other national radio networks]. I think it would benefit from being in Salford.”
He added: “I definitely thing you are going to see a lot of great talent coming up to Salford.
“The idea that you can only run a radio station of scale and stature and quality from London is just not true.”
Moving a resource-heavy rolling news station out of London has been questioned by some BBC insiders.
Presenter Mark Radcliffe told a radio industry conference earlier this year: “I’m a big champion of the north. But it seems to be an interesting choice to put a rolling news network that needs a constant stream of guests and politicians… it’s an interesting move to put that in Manchester.”
The move is scheduled to take place in stages between April and December 2011 – months before the Olympic Games come to London.
Staff who are unwilling to relocate will join a “redeployment pool” – and as a last resort will be entitled to redundancy if a suitable job cannot be found.