On his first day as Director General of the BBC, Mark Thompson announced a new managerial structure for the BBC that significantly reduces the number of executives reporting to him directly and establishes three new boards to cover the organisation’s creative, journalism and commercial activities. He also announced reviews into its commercial businesses, production and commissioning.
Mark Thompson addressed BBC staff in an internal broadcast, saying that from the outside it it feels like the task of really changing the BBC has only begun.
Outlining a restructure of the BBC’s executive management he addressed the need for radical change over the coming years.
“We’re going to have to change the BBC more rapidly and radically over the next three to five years than at any previous point in its history,” he said.
In place of the BBC’s Executive Committee will be a new Executive Board with nine members, including the directors of Television, Radio and New Media but excludes output areas such as News, Sport, Factual and Learning, Drama, Entertainment and Children’s, Nations and Regions, and Worldwide.
A new role of Creative Director will be established, to be held by Alan Yentob in addition to his responsibilities for drama, entertainment and children’s programmes.
Finance Director John Smith will take on the new role of Chief Operating Officer, taking charge of the commercial subsidiaries, in addition to finance and property.
In effect, the re-organisation removes the previous ‘petal’ of the BBC introduced by his predecessor Greg Dyke. While this has served to bring the organisation together, conceptually arranging the various divisions around a central executive, the new structure sees a return to a more classically hierarchical organisation. To what extent this will reduce the bureaucracy involved in its operation remains to be seen.
“The BBC will have a bigger role than ever in building public value by helping to lead the challenge of building a digital Britain,” said Mark Thompson.
Speaking of a new vision for the BBC, to be launched as part of the debate about the Charter, Mark Thompson said that over the next decade a primary purpose of the BBC was to ensure that everyone can share in the benefits of new broadcasting technology and find new ways of making content available to audiences whenever and wherever they want it.
Achieving this vision, he said, would require confronting some questions about how big the BBC should be, in terms of vertical integration, of departments, in-house operations and commercial subsidiaries.
The Commercial Board, under John Smith as COO, will bring together BBC Worldwide and the individual commercial subsidiaries within BBC Ventures. There will be a review of all the BBC’s commercial activities.
“Since before the Second World War, the BBC’s been a multimedia organisation and now at last the real age of multimedia is here,” he said. “Only the BBC and its licence fee can make sure that the digital future is still full of great British content.”
The position of New Media is re-affirmed in the new structure, and the importance of the BBC’s digital strategy is seen as central to the debate over the future of organisation.
It also seems likely that the BBC will be taking a long, hard look at its commercial strategy and the extent to which it should be vertically integrated and own and operate activities and where it should partner or outsource certain operations.