The BBC's governors have named Salford as the leading bidder for the plans to move some departments from London to Greater Manchester.
Salford Quays has been named as the leading bidder
Governors met on Wednesday to discuss the two bids - one for a site near Whitworth Street in central Manchester and the other in Salford Quays.
A statement said the BBC would conduct exclusive discussions with the Salford bid team over a limited time period.
If the talks are successful Salford will be the preferred bidder.
The statement added: "Should it not be possible for BBC management to resolve the outstanding issues to our satisfaction by the end of that period, exclusivity will end.
"The governors' decision yesterday marks a significant step forward in realising a vision for a less London-centric BBC.
"Our final decision will be based on two key factors: whether the move represents value for money for licence fee payers, on which work is continuing; and the affordability of the project, with a final decision not able to be taken until the licence fee settlement is known."
The Salford site hopes to become a 'media hub'
Key departments earmarked to move north include Children's, Sport, New Media, Five Live, Five Live Sports Extra and Research and Development.
The corporation plans to close its current Manchester site in Oxford Road and build a new base by 2010.
Other media providers will be invited to take up space in the new centre as part of a "media zone".
The other short-listed site in Manchester was known as Central Spine, an area of land close to the BBC's current home.
Leader of Manchester City Council, Richard Leese, said: "We remain convinced that the Central Spine site within Manchester's Oxford Road corridor generates the maximum benefit for the North West region as a whole.
"We believe it represents the best deal and the best location for the BBC and we will continue to press those issues."
The Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA) said the move to Salford would have a huge impact on the area's economy.
"Whilst the decision is obviously disappointing for the unsuccessful team, the choice of one site allows the project to move forward swiftly," said chairman Bryan Gray.
The NWDA said the move would create up to 10,000 jobs and add £170m to the regional economy.
Salford City Council Leader John Merry said: "This is the most important day for the city for a long time, but this is also a great time for the whole of the region.
"There is clearly a job of work to be done for both the city and the BBC to take us through the next stage and towards the licence fee settlement.
"But the vision for Media City:UK is extremely exciting and we look forward to bringing together a host of digital and creative industries to create the UK's first media city."