Select Committee on BBC Charter Review Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum by Manchester City Council


  1.1  Manchester City Council (MCC) would like to make the following submission to the House of Lords Select Committee's Inquiry on the BBC's Charter Review, specifically relating to Broadcasting in the Nations and Regions.

  1.2  This submission sets out the context within which the BBC's proposed move to Manchester has been made, the role and contribution of MCC to supporting this process and the potential benefits that would be realised by the BBC's proposals to relocate key network, production and commissioning functions to Manchester.


  2.1  In 2004, the BBC announced plans to create the UK's second largest network broadcasting and production centre in Manchester, to achieve a decisive devolution of power, production and investment from London to the Nations and Regions of the UK.

  2.2  The wide-ranging move would include the transformation of BBC Manchester into the BBC's second largest production centre via a major relocation of production and commissioning functions.

  2.3  MCC fully welcomes the BBC's decision to relocate significant production activity and staff roles. We believe the relocation to Manchester will be of national significance, and will contribute to the continued growth of the media and creative sector will generate very significant economic and social benefits for Manchester, the North West, and the North of England as a whole. These benefits are already starting to be evident with the relocation of a number of new independent production companies to the City over recent months.

  2.4  The emphasis on Manchester as a location reflects longstanding under-investment by the BBC's networks outside London. The new centre would act as a talent hub for increased production, and would help to create the critical mass of activity required to truly drive the growth of creative industries across the whole of the North.

  2.5  In total, the BBC's proposed move is likely to involve the transfer of around £275 million worth of commissioning spend—£50 million of which would flow to independent production companies—to Manchester. The relocation is also likely to involve around 1,730 staff posts, joining the 700 BBC staff already based in Manchester.

  2.6  In order to maximise the opportunities afforded by the BBC's plans, MCC and North West Development Agency (NWDA) are developing a series of specific proposals with the BBC to deliver a range of benefits that would augment the BBC's plan to create greater value for the public, thus enabling Manchester and the wider region to build on its economic assets and market position, as the UK's leading regional media centre.


  3.1  Manchester is the most important economic generator in the North of England—creating over 40 per cent of the North West's wealth and jobs. It is the City's objective to deliver rates of growth in Gross Value Added (GVA), private investment and employment that can match those of London and the South East.

  3.2  We believe the BBC's proposed relocation strategy would make a major contribution to our objective, however, there are a number of key factors that will influence both the effectiveness and long term sustainability of the BBC's move:

    —  The contribution and linkages of the BBC proposal to national, regional, sub-regional and local policy initiatives;

    —  The role and contribution of the public sector in implementing measures to establish the City and the wider region as a sustainable media centre of choice, and thereby enable the BBC and the wider media sector to maximise opportunities to grow and develop.

  3.3  It is clear that the economic assets and potential of Manchester are not only central to the success of local, sub/city-regional, and regional strategies, but also strategies of national significance, including the Northern Way Growth Strategy (NWGS) which recognises that a successful City/region is critical to the long term sustainable growth of the North of England. The NWGS will ensure that the growth of media and creative activity will be properly located within wider national and regional strategies in order to build upon the existing strengths of the sector in Manchester and across the region.

  3.4  The BBC's initiative is also central to the desired outcomes of the recent Lyons and Gershon reviews and the potential benefits which can be captured from relocating public sector agencies and services out of London, and the role these services can play in generating economic and social prosperity.

  3.5  The Government's national targets on reducing regional economic imbalances (PSA2) will be critical to realising the full economic and commercial potential of the media sector in Manchester, as there is a unique market opportunity to build upon the BBC initiative to support key growth sectors such as the media and creative industries, to enable the City to become truly capable of both complementing and competing with London in the international market place.

  3.6  Currently, GVA and GVA per head of population in the City does not match the best of our comparator cities in Europe, despite the fact that over 45,000 jobs in the City have been created over the last five years through the policy and investment objectives and priorities of established strategic economic frameworks and performance objectives. It is also the case that over 60 per cent of jobs in the City are taken by people resident outside of Manchester. These strategies, therefore, which command the support and approval of the key City, regional and national public sector partners include the Manchester City Region Development Programme, the North West Economic Strategy, the Science City strategy and Manchester: Knowledge Capital are designed to create new and high level employment opportunities contributing to the overall growth of the City-region's knowledge economy and skills base, which is expected to grow over 100,000 new jobs in high value-added growth sectors over the next 10 years. These strategies and programmes identify a number of key economic sectors where such growth is feasible. One such sector is cultural and media-related industries.

  3.7  This programme builds upon growing levels of employment in the field of television production and other broadcast media: the City is now the largest regional centre for television and film production in the UK, and is supported by a highly skilled labour force and a range of service, business and independent sector networks.

  3.8  The BBC's relocation proposals will enhance this important process of economic change, by making the critical linkages to key support networks, high quality labour pools, housing markets and, critically, transport infrastructure. The relocation of significant BBC investment, therefore, affords the potential for the highly efficient utilisation of public funds to support not only the BBC, but the whole creative and media sector in a way which adds significant additional value to the local economy, thus multiplying and intensifying benefits. The overall impact should be a step-change in economic activity and performance.

  3.9  To this end the City Council, with the support of its partners, proposes to create a Media Enterprise Zone (MEZ) built around the expanded BBC in Manchester that can provide a focal point for media, creative and IT-related investment into the region and ensure that the added value benefits of the BBC contribute to the long term economic growth of the sector and secure the wider regeneration outcomes required to sustain other public sector funding. The MEZ would, we believe, ensure that the BBC's relocation would achieve:

    —  complementarity with the policy and strategic locational priorities within local, sub/city-regional, regional and northern spatial planning frameworks. The location of facilities within Manchester City Centre is necessary given the economic importance of this centre to the wider region, and its connections to transport, communities and a skills base;

    —  impetus to transform both the physical and economic regeneration potential of a new quarter of the City in which it is located, providing the opportunity to integrate public and private investment in related facilities, complementary end-uses and world class public realm;

    —  new major physical investment into the region and creating long-term capacity for further growth;

    —  securing the active participation of the most significant broadcasters (including ITV/Granada) commissioners and producers of media output in the UK, in a single but integrated new campus;

    —  establishing a regional magnet for SME investment in media and creative activity and a long-term driver of growth for the supply chain, both for the BBC and the wider media industry;

    —  exploiting opportunities to promote innovation by linking public and private research into digital and broadcast media, and strengthening the connections between the BBC and other stakeholders with Manchester Universities; and

    —  providing new opportunities to link, in very practical ways, media sector employers with schools to improve educational attainment, attendance and the pathways for young people into skilled careers.

  3.10  The proposals will strengthen the development of a stronger, more diversified media and cultural base within Manchester, thereby sustaining the long-term impact of the BBC's relocation. The concept of a MEZ will also create new benefits underpinning public access to key aspects of the BBC's operations, thus developing added public benefit to the developing role of the BBC.

  3.11  Independent research has confirmed that the BBC's expansion plans would not only strengthen the economic infrastructure of the media sector in Manchester, but also deliver a step-change in economic performance that would benefit the whole of the North of England.

  3.12  Using economic impact assessment methodologies consistent with HM Treasury guidelines, Cambridge Policy Consultants (CPC) have estimated the economic, social and cultural impact of the BBC North project. According to CPC, the BBC's relocation proposals would create over 3,700 full-time equivalent jobs, an estimated 4,400 jobs in total, and generate an additional £1.5 billion in GVA to the North West economy over 10 years, thereby enhancing Manchester's competitive advantage, as the nation's largest and fastest growing regional centre.


  4.1  The BBC's proposals around devolved investment and jobs from London, and the intention to create the largest regional broadcasting and production centre in the UK, in Manchester, have the potential to generate significant economic, social and creative benefits for the City-region and the wider North of England, as well as helping to transform the prospects of the media sector in Manchester. Manchester City Council therefore welcomes the BBC's proposals.

10 October 2005

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