MediaCity: 15,000 jobs?

I’ve finally got a hold of the new edition of the Salford Star. As one would expect, it is fantastic – top investigative journalism combined with a massive commitment to Salford and Salfordians.

It is no surprise that the magazine has been nominated for a Paul Foot award, for it has an excellent track record of exposing incompetence, negligence and corruption among the local elite. For example, its feature on the Peel Holdings company, which engaged in a political campaign against a local councillor who supported the congestion charge (which Peel opposes) actually resulted in a police investigation.

While other local papers seem to be happy taking their cue from the press offices of the local authorities and Urban Splash, the Star is not afraid to ask hard questions about what regeneration really means for the city. Currently it appears to mean trying to demolish successful schools to replace them with Christian madrasses, and kicking people out of their homes in order to build yuppie flats and poorly maintained RSL housing.

I have no argument with economic growth and change, but in Salford it seems to be carried out to benefit the council and property developers rather than the local community. For example, Salford Urban Regeneration Company – set up and funded by the council and other public agencies – does not employ anyone who lives in Salford. The key to regen is job creation, but the main company set up to spearhead this regeneration won’t even employ the locals who subsidise its six-figure costs.

Speaking of employment, most of you will have heard something about Media City – the BBC move to Salford Quays and the subsequent business development. From MediaCity’s website:

mediacity:uk is a new media city, an innovative, creative hub, to rival other new media cities emerging around the world.

mediacity:uk is surrounded by water. At its heart is a triangle of iconic buildings, The Lowry, Imperial War Museum and a new media complex, home to the BBC. A new network of tightly knit streets, squares and boulevards will cascade down into a huge waterfront piazza, a place to watch the sunset, enjoy a drink or a concert, and have some great conversations.

mediacity:uk, based at Salford Quays, is Manchester’s waterfront. It enjoys all the benefits of the City Centre, with the space for an explosion of new media and creative industries.

mediacity:uk is for people of all ages to live, to work, to learn, to create, to think, to relax, to visit, to enjoy…and to dream

You get the idea – the BBC are building a site up here, there are going to be loads of offices, shops, restaurants and loads of jobs for local people. Indeed, job creation has been the main selling point for locals, with a 15,000 figure quoted at every opportunity. Central Salford’s website states that:

[mediacity] will support approximately 15,500 jobs in a whole range of media related industries, plus all the jobs you would expect in a fully functional city. Everything from construction workers and electricians to doctors, hairdressers and shop workers.

The Learning and Skills Council repeats this: ‘[T]he mediacity:uk developments are estimated to bring 15,000 new jobs to the city.’ The Salford Advertiser reported that the development is ‘expected to create ‘15,000 jobs’. The Manchester Evening News agreed that MediaCity would ‘create 15,000 jobs in the film, TV and creative media industries.’ Quay Property Investments: ‘Media City UK to create 15,000 jobs.’


The Star asked Central Salford how it arrived at this talismanic figure. Central Salford sent over its MediaCity UK Economic Impact: Overview (which I can’t find online). The Star’s reporters examined the document and here are their findings.

Nowhere on the Overview does it say that 15,000 new jobs will be created in MediaCity UK (MC:UK). What it does say is that MC:UK ‘will eventually house 15,000 new jobs’ which we assume means that if companies relocate onto the site bringing their workforce with them and fill every bit of available space there will be 15,000 people working there.

The Overview does state that 10,500 new jobs will be created but only 7,000 of them will be ‘net local additional jobs’.

7,000 new jobs? Yes, but not in Salford. These are new jobs spread out over the whole North West.

3,250 new jobs? Bingo! Central Salford URC said ‘At a local Salford level approximately 3,250 net additional jobs will be created as a result of MediaCity UK.’

So where did they get the figure of 15,000 jobs?

Central Salford URC said, ‘The 7,000 net additional jobs around the north west is derived from the 10,500 gross direct jobs less leakage, displacement, multiplier effects and deadweight. The remaining 5,000 jobs that result in a figure of 15,000 are those that are considered to be safeguarded and are excluded from the calculation of net additional employment.

‘The figures are based upon a comparison of the costs and benefits of MediaCity UK with a reference case to establish the net additional impacts arising from the proposed scheme, taking into account leakage, displacement and substitution, multiplier effects and deadweight. The assessment was completed in March 2006.’

Uh huh.

Something tells me that most of these 3,250 jobs will be of the uniformed, service-sector, minimum wage variety.

The Star points to an article by Brett Christopher, an Auckland-based academic, on the Mediacity development. As its writers say, Christopher’s report, ‘The BBC, the creative class, and neoliberal urbanism in the North of England,’ is absolutely damning. 

Christopher asks: ‘[W]hich Salford – or which Salfords – the BBC move is intended to profit; and which Salfordians’. He points out that no body involved in the development ‘explicitly represents local communities’ and finds that the idea that Mediacity will ‘kick start economic growth’ appears to be an ‘article of faith’. He describes the process as ‘corporate gentrification’:

Whereby ‘real estate development becomes a centrepiece of the city’s productive economy, an end in itself…’ Or in plain English, that Media City is more about building loads of luxury apartments, expensive commercial spaces and places for ‘elite consumption practices’ than anything else.

Reading the Salford Star, you realise how debased the majority of our regional media outlets have become: devoted to promoting a bland consensus politics. Reading the Star, you’re constantly thinking: this is what journalism looks like.

3 Responses to “MediaCity: 15,000 jobs?”

  1. shabir Says:

    im a graphic desiner with 3 years experience in publishing media. how can i get a job in media city.

  2. allan Says: are nuts. what do you expect peel to do? subsidize employers to employ “Salfordians”? Everything is a business, and media city uk needs to make money, not be a job provider.

    Get real.

  3. maxdunbar Says:

    Fine if those were the terms. But as I’ve explained the development is being sold and promoted as a job provider

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