BBC Revamps Top Management Structure

24 July 2006

The BBC last week announced long-term plans to make the UK state-owned corporation's mainstream content available on every media delivery platform. The project is scheduled for completion by April 2007.

It necessitates an extensive restructuring of management with a number of senior BBC honchos, including three programme-commissioners, required to reapply for what effectively are rechristened versions of their old jobs.

In outlining his plans to BBC staff, director general Mark Thompson managed to cram seven modish clichés into a single paragraph.

"We need a BBC ready for digital and for 360-degree multi-platform content creation," he said. "We need to bring together different kinds of creativity, in technology as well as content, to deliver what we need in this converging world."

Thompson's jargon jamboree continued, revealing that the revamp will introduce "360 degree content creation, delivering for our linear television channels, but also for all the new on-demand and web-based platforms. [This] needs to become practical reality rather than just rhetoric and this new grouping will enable us to do that. "

Cliché-allergic readers can now breathe out.

A new division under a single head - current director of television Jana Bennett - and provisionally branded BBC Vision will meld three existing units: (1) Drama, Entertainment and Children's; (2) Factual & Learning; and (3) Television.

It will also encompass three central BBC activities: (i) audio-visual commissioning; (ii) services; (iii) and production - thereby enabling the traditional and new media elements of programmes to be ordered and created simultaneously.

BBC Vision will house three new programming "super-commissioners", respectively responsible for Fiction (drama, comedy, film and acquisition), Entertainment, and Knowledge.

The present incumbents of each of those roles will be required to reapply for their jobs. As will a number of others in the [still] top-heavy management structure.

While the procedure of reapplying for your own job is common to many restructuring situations, BBC-watchers believe it could conform more to the letter than the spirit of what many see as a politically inspired process.

Data sourced from BBC Online (UK); additional content by WARC staff