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Media cities and the reconstruction of space and place

Spicer, Andrew

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Andrew Spicer
Professor in Cultural Production


This presentation explores the concept of a 'media city'. It begins with a definition: media cities are a planned, highly structured intervention that is part of a transformational change in the urban landscape. The presentation then discusses a particular example, MediaCityUK in Salford, Greater Manchester, built on a disused site at the end of the Manchester Ship Canal by private developers. My analysis looks in particular at the legacy of ITV's Granada regional franchise and the role of the BBC, which moved five departments to become MediaCity's 'anchor' tenant in 2012. This move is contextualised within the BBC's policies towards the UK's nations and regions and discusses the reasons why the Corporation felt it was necessary to relocate about one-fifth of its workforce outside London.
The presentation moves on to discuss MediaCity’s impact on Salford and the Greater Manchester region, which had both positive and negative consequences. It created jobs and was the catalyst for substantial economic growth by attracting additional, often international firms, but did little to alter the highly uneven social geography of the region and returned huge profit to the developers, Peel Holdings. MediaCity has now been complemented by the growth of ‘Enterprise City’, which demonstrates a ‘return’ to the city centre and is driven by small-scale high tec companies rather than public service providers such as the BBC. The role of Andy Burnham as Greater Manchester’s city-region mayor is discussed, principally his socialist desire to make economic development more accessible and beneficial to local communities, to ‘do digital differently’.
The account concludes by looking at the broader disparities in the UK’s highly uneven economy and the important role public service broadcasters continue to play, culturally as well as economically, despite the hostility of the Conservative government.


Spicer, A. (2023, November). Media cities and the reconstruction of space and place. Presented at Invited talk, Portico Library, Central Manchester

Presentation Conference Type Keynote
Conference Name Invited talk
Conference Location Portico Library, Central Manchester
Start Date Nov 20, 2023
End Date Nov 20, 2023
Deposit Date Nov 27, 2023
Publicly Available Date Nov 28, 2023
Keywords Media Cities; public service broadcasters; city-regions; uneven development
Public URL
Additional Information This was a presentation to a learned society - the Portico Group - rather than to a conference.


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