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Dead Air

In an interview in yesterday’s Media Guardian, new BBC Five Live controller Adrian Van Klaveren confirmed that all of the stations daytime shows will by 2011 be broadcast from it’s new base in Salford, Manchester.  Surprising this is not. Unwelcome it most certainly is.

The move to Manchester’s purpose-built Media City has been in the air since the renewal of the BBC’s Charter way back when.

At the time the Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) believed that the BBC had to part of the community, it had to be spread and shared with the nation. Or at least, thats what it sounded like. Needless to say that when it came to renegotiate the renewal of its Charter the BBC found themselves in quicksand. Incumbent Director General Mark Thompson, while at Channel 4, stated that Auntie had a “jacuzzi of cash”, something that came back to haunt him when he was in negotiations with the DCMS.

The BBC was going to move and there was nothing that could be done about it. Really, it was a case of Deal or no Deal. Who knows where the idea came from, but, like it or not the BBC was going to lift up some of its interests and move them to Manchester, and as we have discovered Five Lived is one such station. The question is how much has this been thought out?

Would the presenters move? The producers? The staff? If they were to, and here’s the crunch, for a station that prides itself in, not just news, but debate and talk shows, how would it go about securing speakers and spokespeople for it’s shows? After all, government departments are based in London, head-quarters for unions, companies, financial institutions are based in, wait for it, London.

So, remembering this, does the move to Manchester signal the end of face-to-face studio debate?  Van Klaveren has already signaled his dislike for Paxman-esque style interviews. So maybe, just maybe, the Five Live news that debates, analyses and dissects news will be dead sometime soon.

Good talk radio requires people. But the move to Manchester leaves the spokespeople behind. And as common as down-the-line interviews might be in PR, interviews with people in the studio are still needed. Moving away from the centre of business, government is not right.

But, the decision has been made and it looks like these ISDN are not just here to stay, but are set to increase, making debate that much more impersonal, which is what the BBC is becoming, impersonal and distant.

Coleen's a-scribing hack

PRs: have style, but don't forget the substance!