BBC plans expensive return to old news centre

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The BBC is planning to spend tens of millions of pounds transferring its news staff back to Broadcasting House, three years after it spent millions moving them out.

The BBC is planning to spend tens of millions of pounds transferring its news staff back to Broadcasting House, three years after it spent millions moving them out.

The corporation is seeking architects to examine how Broadcasting House could be adapted for "other uses", apart from the administration it now houses, including its possible conversion into a centre for BBC news.

Bringing journalists back to the centre of London would mean closure of the news centre completed in 1997 at Television Centre in White City, in west London, and cost many tens of millions. And millions more will be needed for new equipment at Broadcasting House, on top of a £40m refurbishment last year.

Peter Ainsworth, the Conservative media spokesman, described the situation as "a mess", adding: "The governors will need to think extremely hard about the costs involved in moving back after such an immensely expensive and recent move to White City."

If news services can be better provided at Broadcasting House, he said: "That raises enormous questions about the wisdom of moving out in the first place, which many people questioned at the time."

The Television Centre in west London is deeply disliked by the production teams, particularly those on the Radio 4 Today and World at One programmes, who continue to grumble about the difficulty of persuading top-level interviewees to go out to White City and the massive increase in transport costs to ferry them there.

A BBC spokeswoman said the proposals for Broadcasting House needed to go before the BBC governors. The corporation plans an overhaul of its property portfolio and is hoping to reduce the massive £173m a year it spends on it. It is looking for an external partner to manage and develop its property. The White City site requires a partner with £200m to invest.

Comments