We're Giving You a Strong Voice - and Losing the Flat Caps; PETER SALMON, the BBC's First Director North, Will Give the Royal Television Society North East and Cumbria Annual Lecture Tonight at the University of Sunderland. Here He Writes about the BBC's Commitment to Be Closer to Audiences across the North of England and Plans to Give Northern Towns, Cities and Places Much Greater Exposure on Screen
AS a son of the North, I've always thought the most stirring clause in the BBC Charter is the promise to reflect the nation back to itself.
That doesn't mean people living in London patronising regional viewers with programmes about flat-capped northerners with whippets or Welshmen who sing in choirs.
It means recognising that "the audience" is a set of different communities who often come together in shared tastes and enthusiasms, but at the same time may have different needs and different cultural identities.
And now, with the opening next year of MediaCity at Salford Quays, the BBC will really be putting its money where its mouth is. What will come out of that mouth is a distinctive new northern voice for the Corporation.
We are in a process of unprecedented editorial devolution. The BBC aims to shift half of all its network production out of London by 2016.
In the biggest single move in its history, no less than five departments - Sport, Children's, Learning, Radio Five Live and parts of Future Media and Technology - will transfer from London to Greater Manchester. An enormous range of television, radio and online content, including some of our most loved shows like Match of The Day and Blue Peter, will be made in the North.
This is no empty political gesture, making Salford a kind of London of the North, but a real opportunity for creative talent here.
The project's arteries will feed into all corners of the greater North, invigorating the creative industries throughout the region, and channelling new blood back into the output as a whole.
With an annual commissioning and production budget somewhere between pounds 4m and pounds 5m, there will be openings for writers, technology companies, games makers, universities, training bodies and people with craft skills... cameramen and women, lighting and sound technicians, make up artists and so on.
This will make a real contribution to the creative economy.
Research by Deloitte has shown that every pound of licence fee spend by the BBC generates at least two pounds of economic value.
Things are already happening. The North East Comedy Initiative, which we have been developing with Northern Film and Media, based in Newcastle, is on the look out for the next Vic and Bob, and encouraging writers, stand-ups, film makers or animators to offer their ideas to the BBC.
Northern games companies like Sumo in Sheffield are working with us. Next month we will be launching the interactive Dr Who computer episodes they have produced.
It has to be good news for young people hoping to break into broadcasting.
If all media jobs are in London, it's difficult - and expensive - for those who don't already have connections there to make a start. …