Why Costa is the real winner at Media City

A refreshing backdrop for Media City UK.

A refreshing backdrop for Media City UK.

It has been just over two years since the start of the march to the Media City UK in Salford. The first BBC departments moved from London to the North West in February 2010, followed by the remaining departments in the following months and years. The BBC move is complete and Media City now homes ITV Granada, The University of Salford, children’s programmes and soon the new Coronation Street. But from what I can gather, a chain of a popular coffee shop franchise is the real winner.

Whenever you think of Media City, you don’t automatically consider the huge scale the project has actually been. Many might think the ‘beeb’ paid a few builders to erect some fancy buildings and moved in within a few months. Wrong. The site, on the banks of the Manchester Ship Canal, had been derelict since the closure of the dockyards in the early 1980’s. Peel Holdings bought the plot of land and did no more. In 2003, the BBC announced it was considering moving crucial departments away from London to Manchester. Talks began about constructing a new “media village” in collaboration with ITV Granada, the North West’s strand of ITV. A number of possible new sites were considered, but it was Salford Quays was chosen. The area, over years, has seen considerable development; The Lowry Centre, office blocks and museums had already started to revive the former industrial setting.

The move to Salford was confirmed in 2006. Around 1,800 jobs would be relocated, according to the then BBC Director General, Mark Thompson. Construction on the new site began in 2007, with the announcement in the same year that departments including BBC Sport, CBBC, Radio Five Live and BBC Breakfast would all make the journey to the northern capital.

I have had the pleasure of visiting the attractive site. Media City UK boasts buildings that house the production departments of key BBC programmes, whilst The Studios contain several high definition studios and the BBC’s Philharmonic Orchestra. Other buildings include modern apartments, flexible office space for media and creative industries and The Orange Tower which houses The University of Salford and ITV. The site is very impressive. The architecture and abstract design of the buildings is quite an eye-opener. The ‘airy’ and open feel of the village is very different to the brick and mortar that once occupied Oxford Road in the heart of Manchester. The “media village” feels iconic and a part of new media history. But it is easy to see why people don’t appreciate the site.

Some residents have objected to the site being built, whilst others have relished in its good fortune. Some jobs have been created over the years including in the construction of the site, whilst inside the companies that now occupy the buildings, jobs have been offered for local residents and apprenticeship schemes to aid to the young members of the Salford community. However, a recent committee hearing told how just 39 new recruits out of 350 jobs going were from the Salford area. Whilst this news may cause an upset between the media complex and local residents, it is clear that Media City is more than just a hub housing some of the nations best known programmes. It is a vital organ for the regenerated Salford community. Since it’s construction and opening, Media City has brought a new wave of tourists to the former docks; the sector seeing a boost in visitors for the seventh consecutive year. But whilst the construction has been fairly speedy, the cost of relocating existing staff has angered licence fee payers.

The recent closure of the BBC’s iconic Television Centre was reported as being a part of huge savings for corporation. Departments including BBC News and radio moved to the New Broadcasting House in Central London, whilst other departments had moved to Salford, Glasgow and Cardiff, amongst other areas. The Public Accounts Committee recently grilled BBC executives about the cost of the relocation for the core departments. The top bosses at the beeb continue to insist that the entire project came in under budget, but there are still questions over the relocation packages offered to staff, some of which had to move home from London to the Northern region. BBC trustee Anthony Fry admitted that there would be “raised eyebrows” over the pay of £1million to just 11 staff, whilst the cost of relocation for around 900 staff had nearly toppled £25million. Whilst it may have been a cheaper option to move North, it is clear that the cost to the licence fee payer is great and it’s unlikely that the packages paid out will be repaid in a couple of years.

Tony Morris and Lucy Meacock look above Media City in the Granada Reports studio.

Tony Morris and Lucy Meacock look above Media City in the Granada Reports studio.

But what about programmes themselves. Do they feel any different? No. Whilst ITV’s Granada Reports is now broadcast from a new state of the art studio in The Orange Tower, the programme still feels like it should – a regional news programme, with a live backdrop of the piazza and canal at Media City. Production at ITV is completed on the seven floors that the corporation occupies in the building, so content is unlikely to feel any different. Even the new Coronation Street set, currently being built within the complex is an exact replica of the former set in Quay Street. Viewers won’t notice a difference. Over at the BBC, just a few hundred yards away, the story is very much the same. BBC Sport broadcasts from a new newsroom with no onscreen indication that it is close to Manchester city centre. Nor does Match of the Day, broadcast from Quay House, which feels more like an evolution of the previous theme. CBBC and Cbeebies feel identical to the previous studios, as does BBC Breakfast which could still be confused as to being in London. As for radio, surely nobody would notice the difference? For viewers, content remains the same, high quality broadcasts that have always been provided. The base for the actual production teams is now just in a new location. Costing less than operating from the heart of London. Good move.

The BBC has made a good deal in suggesting a “media village” collaboration because it’s one of a kind in the UK. The cost has run into millions and to the average viewer they won’t even notice the difference. Bu the setting, atmosphere and entire surroundings of Media City feel pleasant and vibrant. Media and creativity at its highest level. The build probably has been worth it. Even on my first visit I was taken back by the grand scale of the buildings and the knowledge of what was being produced and what will be produced in the future. Media City is more than what meets the eye. It is a community bridge and an environment for learning and development. What is certain is that thousands of tourists will continue to flock, year in year out, to visit the complex.

Costa Coffee hosts tourists and staff alike.

Costa Coffee hosts tourists and staff alike.

But out of all of the names who are on site, there is only one winner. Costa Coffee. A small branch squeezed between the BBC buildings and The Studios. For the visitors, studio audiences and tourists, the branch is ideal for a snack or drink to break the day. For the staff of Media City, including journalists, presenters and production staff, the shop is a way of getting out of the office for a light refreshment. And on the odd occasion, you may just spot some famous faces having a coffee before filming. An ideal location for an ideal chain to bring tourists, enthusiasts and professionals all into one place. A mirror reflection of what Media City UK stands for.

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Reporter sacked for using flood victim to save himself

NarayanPargaienA TV news reporter was sensationally fired last night after footage emerged showing him using a flood disaster victim to shield himself from the waters below. The presenter of India’s News Express, Narayan Pargaien, was filmed sitting on the shoulders of flood disaster victim whilst reporting to a camera.

The newsman was presenting from Northern India’s Uttarakhand province where floods and landslides are believed to have killed more than 1,000 people. Thousands more remain stranded and unaccounted for. Pargaien was accused of using the local man to keep himself dry from the torrent of water below. The anchor, with twenty years experience, denied the allegations, instead blaming his cameraman.

He accused the unnamed filmer trying to “sabotage” his career by using a wide angle shot rather than filming from the chest upwards so that viewers would not see the man underneath. It is believed the footage did not make it to air on the news bulletin, but Narayan Pargaien has accused the cameraman of uploading the video to YouTube to humiliate and make him “the villain”.

How the presenter wanted to appear on screen.

How the presenter wanted to appear on screen.

Mr Pargaien then continued to make the situation worse, saying that the man in the video wanted to give something back in return for the coverage. The anchor accounted that the local resident asked him and the cameraman to report on the disaster and how it had affected his home. He continued by suggesting “we helped him with food and money and he was grateful and wanted to show me some respect” before boasting that nobody of his “level” had ever visited the man’s home.

The reporter was summoned to the head offices of the news organisation where he was asked to explain himself. He was subsequently sacked.

It’s not the first time a news reporter has made an embarrassing gaffe. Earlier this year, KFYR News Anchor A.J Clemente made the headlines after his first ever words in his new presenting role consisted of swearing. He never returned. In the UK, the BBC’s infamous interview of Guy Goma caught the worlds eye after producers confused a man who was in the building for a job interview for a technology expert. The result was a humiliating ten minutes for BBC News who interviewed the wrong guest.

Axed: TV favourite victim of budget cuts

Dropped: Tony Livesey has been the regular sports face of North West Tonight since 2006.

Dropped: Tony Livesey has been the regular sports face of North West Tonight since 2006.

One of the North West’s most popular presenters is being dropped in order to make savings. Tony Livesey has been at the helm of the sports desk on the BBC’s North West Tonight programme for seven years, and, despite his first appearance on the programme, he has become a firm favourite amongst viewers.

The announcement was made public during Sunday’s edition of ‘Gordon Burns’ on Radio Manchester, when Livesey, who was a guest, confirmed he was to leave at the end of next month. He told the programme that he was leaving to pursue a new project as the “face of current affairs” with BBC One magazine programme, The One Show. Admitting it was time to move on, the Manchester Evening News has reported that the sports presenter’s contract was not offered for renewal. In an email leaked to the evening paper, Livesey thanks his colleagues and confirms he will depart at the end of July. In it, he says “I’ve really enjoyed my time here, more I think than you can imagine and, who knows, one day I may be back” adding that management told him his contract would not be renewed.

Tony will not leave the nightly news programme altogether. It has been confirmed that he will remain a part of the North West Tonight team, deputising main host Roger Johnson. Speaking of his axe on Sunday, Livesey told Gordon Burns that it brought an end to the “days of me, you and Ranvir“; Gordon retired in 2011, whilst Ranvir Singh left to front ITV’s Daybreak less than six months later. Speaking of the presenter swap-around, Livesey likened the red sofa of North West Tonight to the red chair on The Graham Norton Show where contestants are “tipped” over the back.

The regular sports presenter had an initial rocky start to his North West Tonight career, with viewers emailing that he must look tidier. He also admitted he got sent a number of ties in the post, in reference to his apparent “scruffy” and tieless appearance; On his first day he was even mistaken for someone who was in the building for an audition rather than the main presenter. Despite this, Tony has won round the viewers with his quirky humour, passion and knowledge for sport and his love for Burnley FC.

North West Tonight’s current editor, Michelle Mayman, thanked Tony for his work, adding she was pleased he was staying in touch with the programme. She also said “he has done a brilliant job since he joined the team in 2006, bringing his good humour and warmth to proceedings. It has been great fun working with him, and we wish him all the very best.”

The teatime favourite will leave his current role on July 26th but will return to host the main programme on occasion. Livesey will still present his Radio 5 Live Weekend Breakfast Show and his new role as editor of current affairs at The One Show will begin in August.

Weather presenter Dianne Oxberry remains the longest serving member of the North West Tonight on-air team, having joined in 1995.

Young politicians should be embraced not pushed out

Cllr Jake Morrison, 20

Cllr Jake Morrison, 20

The Labour Party’s youngest councillor, Jake Morrison, was suspended earlier this month by his own party for an alleged row between himself and a Liverpool MP. The allegations were made by Luciana Berger, MP for Liverpool Wavertree. She describes the twenty year old as having a “complete lack of teamwork”. He claims she has never given him a chance. But does the suspension of a young councillor do more harm than good? Does it prevent the next generation of politicians from following their dreams and goals?

I am a great believer in local politics and government. It can certainly do a lot of good. The opportunity to bring up local issues that matter within the community is something of great recognition for a councillor and MP, non-more so than a younger member. There does, however, appear to be a negative representation about local government when it comes to issues about expenses, education and decision-making. All influence and change voters’ minds throughout any political career. For a younger person it may be more difficult to handle, but it shouldn’t prevent people from joining politics, especially as the door opens to welcome more independent candidates.

Decisions and U-turns are crucial to a success of a government. Too many decisions that too many people dislike will turn voters against your party, whilst too many U-turns will suggest that your party is not competent enough of leading the country. The way in which a leader manages and presents himself is crucial when connecting to the ordinary voter. And with every term that passes, it appears that the “three main” parties that once stood for such different ideologies have become merged and there is no clear distinction as to where one party ends and another one begins. There is now more room than ever for independent candidates to stand up and be heard. There has been an overwhelming support to the UK Independence Party (UKIP) in light of political scandals and failures to serve by politicians. Seven out of ten people I have spoken to claim they will vote for UKIP or a candidate not from the main parties at the next general election. But back to the original question. If a young individual wants to join politics, then they should be embraced and welcomed for wanting to make a difference to social issues, including education, poverty and welfare. Whilst Cllr Morrison has stressed he has always and will continue to support the Labour Party, there is a big enough gap today for a young candidate to stand up and devise a campaign that they believe is right for their community. A stand-out candidate.

Whilst a stand-out candidate is needed to ensure a strong relationship begins, there does need to be a positive working environment. Cllr Morrison sticks out in my mind, not because of his politics, but because he is Liverpool’s youngest councillor. That goes a long way, especially in keeping young voters interested in politics. He is portrayed as a confident, young and positive individual. Even when he claimed that Luciana Berger MP had made “his life unbearable”, his attitude and presence was still largely positive and the determination to continue with his job came across very well. Luciana Berger MP has denied the allegations made by Mr Morrison, but despite that we must applaud the motivation and drive of the young councillor to continue despite these hiccups to his role.

Luciana Berger stated: “Of the 14 Labour councillors in the Wavertree Constituency you are the only one who chooses not to engage with my office, or get involved with our constituency activities.” Ofcourse it is impossible to determine what happened and whilst an internal party investigation is underway, we cannot be certain to make judgements.

What I do believe, however, is that we should welcome new and young life into politics. The next generation of councillors and MP’s are around and could be living next door to you. We must admire a young generation who are determined to make a stand, work for their communities and ensure their heart is where it needs to be.

“No-Brainer” – Get the ducks out of the dock

And where better place to return to than one of the stories I last featured. The Liverpool Yellow Duckmarine.

Three months after one of Liverpool’s iconic yellow bus/boats sank in the Albert Dock, this weekend saw a “disaster” unfold. All in front of hundreds of people who watched from the dock walls of the freezing water below. Another one of the fleet sank. This time, full of passengers and tourists.

The incident unfolded just after 4pm on Saturday 15th June when “Quacker 1”, the same vehicle The Queen had travelled in, entered the waters of the Albert Dock in the “splashdown” finale. On board, terrified passengers have been quoted as saying that the vessel almost immediately began to sink into the waters just seconds after it entered. It remains unknown as to what caused the sinking, although a loss of power or the impact of the water as the bus entered is being considered.

Tourist Terror - Passengers jump to safety as the craft goes down.

Tourist Terror – Passengers jump to safety as the craft goes down.

Amateur video footage has also been released (see below), showing the “duck” filling with water and eventually tipping, becoming nearly completed submerged. The footage, filmed by one of the many onlookers, shows the passengers leaping to safety into the dock waters, whilst tourists on dry land threw down life rings in concern of the safety of those left perishing in the waters. As the bus becomes nearly fully submerged under the water, one onlooker shouts “there’s still people in there”. All of those on board had a lucky yet damp escape.

All of the fleet have been grounded. On Sunday (the day after the incident), a popular tourist day in Liverpool, there was no sight of any of the amphibious vehicles in the city centre or at the tourist drop off zone, close to the Albert Dock complex. In a statement, the Yellow Duckmarine have insisted that the vehicles were carrying valid certificates to hold passengers and that “following the incident involving Quacker 1, we are working closely with our regulatory body, The Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) and Merseyside Police.” All of the vehicles are now in storage whilst an investigation takes place.

The Final Haul - The Duck is raised from the water. But will it be for the final time?

The Final Haul – The Duck is raised from the water. But will it be for the final time?

So are we likely to see the return of the duck to the streets and waters of Liverpool? Joe Anderson, Mayor of Liverpool, thinks not. He says: “It is absolutely a no-brainer after this accident that these boats don’t go back into the water at all.
They can argue they’ve got safety certificates and had their checks, but for two to sink in the last three months, it’s just not good enough.”

When asked what was next, Mr Anderson suggested the vehicles should be mothballed and put into a museum, adding that if the company wants to continue, they must invest in new vehicles.

The investigation continues.

Jack is back

April 15th was the last time I posted a blog and since then I have a had a lot of thinking time. I am a great lover of the media and journalism and, in order to pursue this line of career, I have decided to cut back my work hours.

Good or bad? Good, actually. I’ve always wanted to be a journalist and work in an industry which is exciting and always changing. unfortunately as a full-time employee this was near enough impossible. Now, however, I hope that with more time on my hands, I can exert my energy and enthusiasm into my studies and gaining vital experience to make a lasting career.

With a bit more time on my hands, I shall continue to update this blog, under a new name – JacksBITES – and hopefully it can showcase some of the stories that interest me and the writing I can create.

Never give up on your dreams.