Singapore puts a cap on cars, a new development with newshound history and we tour the original media clusters, from Fleet Street to Park Row.
As the backdrop for years of election-night coverage and a proliferation of news programmes, the bbc’s 1960s office in west London was for decades a visual stand-in for the UK’s public broadcaster. So much so that White City, the unremarkable area it was based in, also became synonymous with the Beeb – and not much else.
When, in 2013, the bbc decided to expand its foothold in the north of the country, however, Television Centre’s eight studios were shuttered. Four years later, a £1bn (€1.1bn) redevelopment spearheaded by UK firm Stanhope has not only reopened three of the studios for use but has also transformed the whole structure into a complex that will mix residential, office and retail space. “It’s so nice to see people queuing around the block to come in and see a show being recorded – and for the site to come back to life,” says David Conway, managing director of bbc Studioworks, the bbc subsidiary that now operates the studios. “In the 1960s, this was the first purpose-built high-volume studio in the UK: in its ergonomics it lends itself perfectly to TV production.”
Its doughnut shape has proved ideal for creating wide-windowed apartments, with more than 400 flats already built. Creative businesses have been invited to join the office spaces and independent restaurants are filling the street-level spaces of one of the complex’s wings. Member’s club Soho House is also opening a space in the building – complete with rooftop pool, a gym available for residents to use and a restaurant open to the general public. “Gone are the days of the red-tape around a plan,” says Stanhope’s Alistair Shaw. “It’s time to reach out to the community.”
The area is also attracting new media players big and small: private television channel itv is slated to move much of its team to White City this year and art magazine Elephant is planning to relocate too. “It’s an interesting position; there’s new ground to be broken,” says Robert Shore, Elephant’s publisher. “It will bring to life something that was already here but was looking for bigger expression.”
Cities looking to curb the number of cars on their streets have tried everything from barring access to central neighbourhoods to increasing road tax but a more radical solution is on the cards for land-scarce Singapore. There are about 620,000 cars in the city-state but with no space to build more roads the government has decided to cap the number of vehicles allowed from February onwards.
Driving is notoriously expensive in Singapore. Purchases are strictly regulated through Certificates of Entitlement (coe). These documents are valid for 10 years and can cost up to s$50,000 (€31,500) – and that’s before you’ve even bought the vehicle. From February, no new certificates will be issued unless they replace an already issued one – meaning that a car must be scrapped or exported. Ironically, the measure has so far only increased the number of purchases.
Technological advances mean that media companies no longer need to be close to the courthouse to report the latest news but clustering can be used to promote regeneration. Seoul’s Digital Media City is home to three major broadcasters, a film archive and digital-technology companies. But such hubs are nothing new. Here we tour the streets that made media clustering legendary.
Fleet Street, London
Rupert Murdoch put the first nail in Fleet Street’s coffin when The Times and The Sun moved east. The Financial Times, The Daily Mail and The Daily Express soon followed. Yet it took a further 30 years for the final two journalists – London correspondents from a Scottish newspaper – to put their pens down in 2016.
Park Row, New York
The spread of New York’s globe-spanning media organisations is as disparate as the content they produce. But this wasn’t always the case: Park Row – a small street near Chinatown – was home to the likes of The New York Times, The Tribune and The New York World in the 19th century.
Broadcast Drive, Hong Kong
In the 1970s and 1980s Broadcast Drive was home to all five Hong Kong networks. The British colonial government kicked off the trend by moving in public broadcaster RTHK, one of only two networks that remain.