BBC joins forces with Granada to make TV shows

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The Independent Online

ITV's main weapon in its ratings war with the BBC, Coronation Street, will soon be made with help from its rival.

ITV's main weapon in its ratings war with the BBC, Coronation Street, will soon be made with help from its rival.

The BBC and Granada are to merge their Manchester camera crews and technical staff, shifting the production of programmes such as A Question of Sport and the National Lottery show from the BBC's Manchester studios to the new joint venture, 3sixtymedia - which will be based at Granada's Quay Street headquarters.

Network bosses said the new company would offer a wide range of production facilities to the fast-growing media hub in the north-west, and they hope it will be in demand for massive media events such as the Commonwealth Games.

When 3sixtymedia is launched in October, about 340 Granada staff and 85 BBC "resources" staff - including camera operators, sound engineers, editing staff and designers - will be moved.

The Oxford Road studios house many BBC departments, including local and regional programmes, network production, transmissions and the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, which will remain. Producers and programme-making staff will stay at Oxford Road along with 100 resources staff.

Granada and the BBC in Manchester already have a good working relationship. Granada makes The Royle Family, University Challenge and What The Papers Say on behalf of the corporation.

The launch of 3sixtymedia in the autumn is subject to the approval of the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. The deal is seen as part of the cost-saving exercise ordered by its director general, Greg Dyke, and a viable commercial opportunity to generate funds from independent programme makers who pay to use the unit.

Brenda Smith, the managing director of Granada Television, said: "The creation of this new independent company with the BBC will enable Manchester to compete strongly with London facilities and secure creative and technical jobs in our region.

* ITN switched on its 24-hour news service yesterday. The ITN News Channel is being transmitted live across television, digital radio, mobile phones and the internet.

It is expected to reach more than 12 million viewers - one- third of the country's television-watching population. The rolling service, a collaboration with cable broadcaster ntl, will be available through 10 outlets.