BBC’s Salford move rejected by 50% of staff

More than half of the 924 staff the BBC has asked to re-locate to Salford have refused to make the move, with the take-up by the sports division – at just 58 per cent – the poor best among the five departments due to move from London.

A total of 1,600 BBC staff from five departments, plus 800 existing Manchester-based staff, are due to begin moving to new north-of-England headquarters at Media City in the new year. BBC Sport is expected to move in 2011, barely 12 months ahead of the Olympic Games being staged in London.

With so many senior managerial staff not making the Salford move, the fear must be that this loss of experience may affect the BBC’s coverage of the London Games.

Despite generous relocation expenses being offered to staff, several senior figures have either refused to move or managed to be redeployed to jobs in London: Roger Mosey, the former head of BBC Sport, has taken on an Olympic planning job and will continue to be based in London, as will Dave Gordon, BBC Sport’s head of outside broadcasts.

Mihir Bose, working within the BBC News, quit as Sports Editor in the summer rather than move. James Porter, the head of sports news, and Gordon Turnbull, the head of radio sport, have declined the move, as 12 of the 30 BBC managers affected have said that they will not move from London and less than 65 of BBC Sport’s 114 middle managers have agreed to re-locate.

Today, it has emerged that while 58 per cent of BBC Sport’s overall staff has agree to leave London, just 26 per cent of the BBC Learning and 31 per cent of the children’s department are moving

The controversially generous relocation package includes the BBC guaranteeing to pay 85 per cent of the value of the employees’ current homes, paying up to £3,000 for “carpets and curtains” in new houses, as well as the payment of professional fees.

In total, 46 per cent of the staff in the five BBC programming departments ” Children’s, Sport, Learning, Radio 5 Live and future media and technology ” have chosen to relocate from London. This equates to 428 people.

London staff have spent the past year deciding whether they want to transfer. Sport had the highest take-up, 58 per cent, followed by Radio 5 Live’s AM morning division, with 56 per cent, then 5 Live News with 50 per cent. The move – instituted by government edict – appears to discriminate against female staff, of whom only 30 per cent have agreed.

The first staff to transfer in January will be a couple of people from Five Live, which will begin broadcasting some late night programmes from Salford, and a few staff working on children’s show Newsround.

Click here for more recent articles on journalism, sport and sports journalism

Your SJA subscription is due from JANUARY 1 – click here for details of how to make your payment