Delivering Quality First - exploring ideas

Chief Operating Officer

There have been various stories in the press this week speculating about proposals emerging from 'Delivering Quality First', which is our wide-ranging consultation with all BBC staff on how the BBC should deliver the highest quality programmes and services under our new licence fee settlement.

I understand that some of these stories may sound drastic so I want to explain the process and where we've got to so far.

The Director General has challenged the senior managers overseeing this work to think radically about what the BBC should look like in six years time, what our priorities should be and what we should do less of. And they've done that. But at this stage, the outcomes of these discussions are still just ideas.

I can assure you no decisions have been made yet and none of the ideas currently being explored will definitely happen. Equally, I can't rule anything out and we are still welcoming further suggestions.

We won't be giving a running commentary on every speculative idea - but I want to be clear that our commitment to quality content as well as value for money is running right through this process.

On the subject of local radio, it's important to remember that representing the UK's regions and communities is one of the BBC's six public purposes. With the rest of the local news sector at increasing risk of market failure, the BBC's contribution to local journalism is more important now than ever. However, that doesn't mean we shouldn't be looking at the most effective way of delivering it.

As part of last year's strategy review, we looked hard at our local services, making our networks more distinctive, increasing the amount of news and speech programming and investing in local journalism. Reach for our local services has risen recently and the question now is, how can we take this further within a flat licence fee settlement?

And regarding sports rights, we need to remember that delivering great sporting moments to the audience unites the nation. This weekend, viewing of the Six Nation's Calcutta Cup game between England and Scotland peaked at 8 million viewers and the BBC Sport website received 3.9 million visitors on the day of the England v France game.

Looking ahead, the plan is to bring the proposals from all the staff consultations together and test them against out public purposes and priorities. These will then be shared with staff before the final proposals are submitted to the BBC Trust for its approval in July. The BBC Trust will consult the public before any final decisions are made.

I can't pretend there aren't difficult choices and some painful decisions to be made but I'm hopeful that by thinking radically and being transparent about the process the decisions we make will be in the best interests of the BBC and our audiences.

Caroline Thomson is the BBC's Chief Operating Officer


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