BBC plans news HQ designed by Foster

Jane Robins Media Correspondent
Thursday 09 September 1999 23:02

THE BBC is considering plans for a huge "super newsroom", designed by Sir Norman Foster on the South Bank in London, which would cost about pounds 20m a year in rent.

The designs, at an "embryonic stage", were presented yesterday at a meeting between Sir Norman's architectural firm and executives from the finance company CIT, which would own the property and rent it to the BBC.

The news centre would benext to Sir Norman's building for the new London Authority and the mayor of London.

"The newsroom would cover about an acre and house many hundreds of journalists, from television, radio and the World Service," a BBC insider said.

The BBC is considering moving journalists out of the new multi-million- pound complex at Television Centre in west London not long after they were relocated from Broadcasting House in central London. They would be joined by journalists from the World Service who will be moved out of their Bush House site, also in central London, before the BBC's lease expires in 2005.

Options for BBC property are being prepared by the corporation's "2020 vision" property board and will be put to the BBC's Board of Governors on 16 September. The proposals will recommend rationalising the corporation's use of 500 properties across the country.

BBC executives are known to have attended two meetings in June, at which they briefed the architect to come up with plans for a 500,000-square- foot newsroom. Sir Norman designed the newsroom for ITN's London headquarters.

t The BBC denied reports that it spent pounds 28.1m on management consultants in the 1997-98 financial year. It saidthat the figure was closer to 1 per cent of the licence fee income at pounds 22m.

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