Sorry Hazel, but what did you expect? 

18 January 2012

As you may be aware, the BBC recently moved a chunk of its operation to Salford. I must, before we continue, express an interest as I used to work at the BBC and my role was one of those that moved.

Unlike my role, I stayed in London and left the BBC in June. But before I left I was one of the people who got to sit in meeting rooms interviewing people for all those jobs that suddenly needed filling.

Well recently the BBC released some figures and they showed that 3,172 people from Salford applied for jobs with the BBC at MediaCity and just 24 people were successful. Local MP Hazel Blears is demanding an enquiry and calling the figure “incredibly disappointing”.

Well I’m sorry that sounds low but come on Hazel, use your bloody brain. Really? What else did you expect?

For starters 1,846 jobs were moved to MediaCity, from both London and the BBC’s former local base of New Broadcasting House in Manchester. The jobs that moved from Manchester were already taken and the jobs that moved from London had to be offered to the existing staff who were all given the chance to relocate. The BBC couldn’t close all those existing roles and create new ones. That would be plain dumb.

So the roles not taken by previous employees was 680. 246 of those went to residents of Greater Manchester. 24 of those were from Salford. (Note there are ten boroughs in Greater Manchester giving an average of 24.6 people from each borough getting a job – Salford’s 24 is pretty much on the money here)

That leaves 434 from outside Manchester. Too many? Well the BBC is a large organisation which requires a range of specialist skills. These are not jobs in call centres. It can take years to develop the right skills, and the BBC could not simply shut down for a year whilst it got everyone up to speed. To maintain continuity of service it simply had to recruit the most qualified staff.

And when we look at a map of Britain and try and work out where those skills are going to be, well let’s just say that you’re simply not going to find a huge bunch of unemployed people with the right skills in Salford.

Before Hazel turns up and demands my head on a stick for that comment, it’s not a slight on Salford, it’s a simply fact that the people with the right skillsets are mostly in London, with a handful of other people dotted around the country. Many of them are even, like me, northerners who had to move to London in order to get a job.

The fact is Hazel that in years gone by, when we had a regional TV system with lots of TV bases dotted around the country, you might just have got more local staff in MediaCity. You can demand your inquiry but the chances are any inquiry will just come up with one simple, result: well, durr. What did you expect?

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2 responses to this article

Glenn Aylett 22 January 2012 at 3:46 pm

Maybe Hazel would have been better employed trying to stop the destruction of that other Manchester broadcaster, Granada, over the years. This one time BBC of the North with a reputation for quality programming is no little more than Coronation St and that high quality debating show Jeremy Kyle. How Sidney Bernstein must be turning in his grave.

Reginald Murgatroyd 25 January 2012 at 5:18 pm

Glenn Aylett makes a most insightful point.

The New Labour administration, was elected with the support of Granada Television under Gerald Robinson, who even hosted the Labour Party Political Broadcst, and was also no doubt instrumental in getting Tory Bliar exposure on the Diz O’Connor Show.

“It was Gerry wot won it for Tony.”

As part of the payback, which included a knighthood for Robinson, the man who proclaimed that greed gets things done, and because of the failure of the Granalton On Digital vehicle, it was the New Labour Administration who relaxed the few ITC regulations for program content and presentation, and then passed the Communications Act 2003 with the toothless light touch regulator OfCom allowing Granda to take over Carlton and the subsequent wholesale destruction of the remaining regional TV production centres.

At the same time Tessa Jowell was active proclaiming the lie that “regional televsion was safe” under the Communications Act, all the time knowing that its destruction had been well planned in advance.

Hazel Blear’s comments are therefore no more than hypocritical sanctimonious utterances of a political nature to keep up the pretence that she is concerned about the jobs and economy of her constituents even though she was an active and willing part of an administration which allowed Granada to destroy its Manchester operations and move staff wholesale to the South Bank and never once raised any objections.

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