BBC’s topper target of tirade by reporter

The British Broadcasting Corp. has a “Big Brother” management that has frightened and demoralized its staff, a senior BBC correspondent said Tuesday.

Mark Tully, BBC correspondent in India, attacked the administration of director-general John Birt in a speech at the Radio Academy Festival in Birmingham, England.

The speech was reported at length on BBC radio and television.

“John Birt’s style of management has been described as Stalinist and pseudo-Leninist. I would not go that far, but so many managers parrot his name that many of the staff feel that there is some sort of Big Brother watching them ,” Tully said.

“Fear is far more constricting than any BBC bureaucracy has ever been. In a large and complicated organization, it puts a high premium on sycophancy and virtually rules out healthy criticism of the management,” Tully said.

Birt did not respond to the speech but planned to address the festival today.

David Hatch, an adviser to Birt, said staff cuts of 18% in the past four years caused the unhappiness.

“That is deeply upsetting, it’s very frightening, and that is why there is a sense of upheaval within the BBC,” Hatch said.

Birt, director-general since December, has set out to make the BBC more efficient by using more outside productions and controlling costs.

Stephen Milligan, a Conservative lawmaker and former BBC journalist, said Tully’s speech and the BBC’s coverage of it proved fear did not rule the corporation.

“The fact is that the BBC is an anarchic organization,” he said. “Money has always been spent on the BBC as if it came from a bottomless pit … I think John Birt is the first person who has actually tried to get a grip on it and try to introduce reforms.”

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