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Comment: BBC head of Salford Heidi Dawson on BBC One’s recently announced Salford news boost

heididawson

“When I was a student in Salford, it was clear to me this was a special place with their community sense of pride, passion, and ingenuity. Now, as the BBC’s Head of Salford and Controller for BBC Radio 5 Live, I like to think I play a small part in showcasing the success of Salford to a global audience.

Since opening our doors in 2011, the BBC in Salford has proven to the world that the North of England is a creative powerhouse. Just two weeks ago our BBC teams in the region racked up 11 awards at the Royal Television Society North West awards for their outstanding journalism and production work.

With the BBC’s investment, Media City has grown to be a leading figurehead of news, entertainment, and online media in the last decade. Employment in the creative sector has grown by 142%, with the number of creative businesses growing by 70% due to our continued financial commitment to the area.

But what excites me more, is the amazing new ideas that Salford can bring to a global market. News has always been an important part of the BBC’s identity since its inception a hundred years ago. Valuing impartiality, accuracy, and accessibility, BBC News broadcasts to millions of homes across the country.

But last week, the BBC announced a whole raft of new investment for Salford which will revolutionise the way BBC One’s news coverage is made going forward.

BBC News at One, which has previously been broadcast from London, will permanently move up to Salford from May 2024. It will also relaunch as a brand-new hour-long programme, giving audiences across the UK a more in-depth and broader daytime news offering – including vital regional news. This is a significant moment, as it will mark the first time ever that a daily BBC TV news bulletin will be broadcast outside of London on an ongoing basis.

Not only that, but BBC Breakfast, which is already proudly produced in Salford, will be extended from 9:15am – 9:30am every Monday to Friday from January 2024. This boost will give viewers across the UK an important, longer final news bulletin from their specific nation or region, ensuring that they get the latest and most up-to-date information. The move expands our national news hub in Salford, bringing 22 jobs and a guarantee that the North West remains a leading champion of impartial, in-depth, and accurate news coverage.

A new UK Editor role will also be appointed in Salford, to help better reflect the whole of the country in our reporting.

BBC News at One’s big move will mean it joins an exciting line-up of huge BBC brands that already call Salford and Manchester their home. Morning Live moved to the city centre in 2022, meaning that all content on BBC One on weekdays from 6am to 10am is broadcast entirely from the region. Not only that, but we have just announced that Morning Live is getting a new presenter line up and a runtime extension to 75 minutes, giving Manchester more time in the spotlight.

My own radio station, BBC Radio 5 Live has broadcasted award-winning news and sport programming to the whole of the UK from Media City since it’s very opening in 2011. And, for the first time ever, BBC Radio 1 is now also broadcasting from Salford seven days a week.

It’s an exciting time to be based here, even as I write this now, our teams are getting ready to host BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2023 on Tuesday 19 December. The awards show, which this year marks its 70th year, will once again come live from here – the home of BBC Sport – in Media City, Salford.

Gary Lineker, Clare Balding, Gabby Logan and Alex Scott – will present the programme live on BBC One and iPlayer from 7pm – 9pm. The event will also be celebrating its seventieth anniversary this year, and I’m so proud that Salford will play a key part in this fantastic legacy.

As part of the BBC’s Across the UK plan, we are committed to delivering a service that is more reflective and representative of all communities. This means standing by our promise to invest in the North West, especially new, local talent.

That’s why, in 2021 we also announced an expansion of BBC Writers Room in Salford, with the Head of New Writing Jess Loveland ensuring that inspiring local writers from all walks of life can express their voice.

BBC Radio 3 plans to move a whole host of programming to the region later this year too, with an aim of creating a fantastic classical music hub in the north. And in April this year, we announced that BBC 6 Music’s evening schedule will all be broadcast from Salford too.

The BBC is committed to Salford – and indeed the whole of the North. That’s why earlier this month we signed up to the Northern Creative Corridor Charter, with the Royal Society of Arts. It’s a commitment to work, alongside others, to unlock the huge potential of the creative industries across the North of England – supporting jobs, skills, investment, and innovation.

Just two weeks ago I was in Blackpool for Strictly Come Dancing live from the Tower Ballroom. That particular episode had the highest overnight figures for the series to that date according to our overnight figures and stats show that six out of 10 TV viewers in the North West watched the show. This demonstrates the real power of being close to our audiences and making our programmes here.

BBC News at One’s move to Salford marks an exciting moment. Not only does it help Salford express its creative talent to a national audience and continue our outstanding track record of impeccable broadcast journalism, it also enables the region to play a key part in the BBC’s next hundred years. From here we will keep safeguarding and championing our impartiality and developing our news coverage for the future.”

Heidi Dawson
Head of BBC Salford and controller, BBC Radio 5 Live

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