The MediaCityUK (MCUK) TV and film facilities development at Salford Quays, Greater Manchester received another boost this month when commercial broadcaster ITV announced that it will move its production operations to the site in 2012, writes Kevin Hilton. The BBC is transferring five departments to MCUK early this year and tested its orchestral audio studio in September, while Satellite Information Services (SIS) and the University of Salford have also signed up to take space.
There has been speculation whether ITV, which had had a presence in Manchester since the Granada Television days from the 1950s onwards, would make the move to Salford. Even in the last month or so the broadcast group would not make any firm comment, other than that it examining a number of options.
Last week ITV confirmed that it would take "several floors" in the Orange Building at MCUK for production and management departments and regional news, supported by facilities boasting "the latest technology".
The flagship soap opera Coronation Street, which recently celebrated its 50th anniversary, will also move from the Quay Street broadcast centre, although it will not relocate to MCUK itself. A purpose-built facility, including two sound stages, is to be constructed on 7.7 acres at Trafford Wharf, which is separated from Salford Quays by the Manchester Ship Canal.
Adam Crozier, chief executive of ITV, commented that it is "vital" for the broadcaster to have "a modern, fit-for-purpose creative hub outside of London". No details of technology are being released at this time but an ITV spokesman said that, in the case of Coronation Street, the idea was to take the opportunity to replace aging facilities and build a complex that would "last another 50 years".
In spring next year BBC Children's and Learning, BBC Sport, Radio Five Live and parts of BBC Future Media and Technology will move to MCUK from London. The BBC's operations will be centred on the commercial studios complex, Block D, which houses seven HD/5.1 TV studios, a multi-purpose audio studio (MPAS) and the new home of the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra. A concert was staged on 14th September to try out this big orchestral room, which, like the MPAS, has a Studer Vista 9 in its control booth. The TV studio sound galleries are fitted with Calrec Audio consoles, either Apollo or Artemis desks.
The University of Salford (UoS) installation involves HDTV and radio studios, post-production suites and dubbing theatres, which will be used by students on the BSc (Hons) Audio Technology, BSc (Hons) Professional Sound and Video Technology and MSc Audio Production courses.
SIS, the betting industry TV programming and data provider, has begun moving its London facilities - including production, studio, play-out, teleport, engineering support and master control room departments - to MCUK and will take up full residency by 2013.
In November SIS and the developer of MCUK, Peel Media, formed a joint venture to run the site's studio, post-production and technology support facilities. It will also work with the BBC, UoS and "other media partners" to develop "new technologies and services".