BBC budget boost

Staff trimmed to raise $160 mil for programs

LONDON — The BBC will pump more money into programming and give more power to program makers under the grand plan unveiled Monday by new director general Greg Dyke.

Dyke’s “One BBC” vision, as the structural revamp is called, will entail axing hundreds of middle management jobs to raise £100 million ($160 million) to contribute to a $320 million annual boost to the BBC’s programming budget.

Pubcaster will be run by an executive committee of 17 department heads, all reporting directly to Dyke, with execs in creative roles in the majority.

Hands-on topper

Dyke, it would appear, is intent on becoming the most hands-on director general in recent BBC history.

“Our aim is to create one BBC, where people enjoy their jobs and are inspired and united behind the common purpose of making great programs and delivering outstanding services,” he told BBC staffers. “We need enough money and the right environment to make great programs and deliver great services. That’s the only reason we are all here and we shouldn’t forget it.”

The new, flattened structure should level the playing field between creatives and bureaucrats. By contrast, the previous director general, John Birt, cocooned himself behind layers of pen-pushers.

Yentob a key player

Key to Dyke’s team will be Alan Yentob, the former BBC director of television who will now be director for BBC Drama, Entertainment & Children, one of the three new production departments.

There was widespread speculation that Yentob, generally regarded as guardian of the BBC’s creative flame, might ankle rather than accept what would have been a demotion under the old structure.

But in the new hierarchy, Yentob’s post keeps him on par with his replacement as director of television, Mark Thompson, who will now oversee all of the BBC’s TV channels. Thompson, who was previously in charge of regional broadcasting, is one of the pubcaster’s fastest rising stars.

Streamlining

Meanwhile, Matthew Bannister becomes director of marketing and communications, overseeing a department that combines the previous sprawl of BBC consultants, public relations people and market researchers. Bannister had been BBC Prod.’s chief exec.

Also noteworthy is the retention of Tony Hall as director of BBC News and Rupert Gavin as chief exec of BBC Worldwide, the pubcaster’s commercial division. Another five departments are temporarily headed by acting directors.

Destined for the scrap heap is the practice of internal competition, under which different departments within the BBC had to trade with each other at arm’s length in an unconvincing imitation of the commercial market.

Dyke’s changes were welcomed at BBC Worldwide, left largely unscathed by the changes.

The BBC’s old structure had two overarching divisions, BBC Prod. and BBC Broadcast. Yentob’s department, along with BBC Factual & Learning and BBC Sport, replace the production division.

The production departments will be responsible for content in their designated areas across the BBC, giving them a greater say in the kind of programming that goes to air. The BBC, said genre commissioners, will in the future work alongside channel controllers, an initiative described as “a more collaborative commissioning process.”

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