Delivering simpler, more efficient and more cost-effective ways of working - is vital if the BBC is to meet the target we set ourselves in Putting Quality First of reducing overheads to less than 10p in every licence fee pound by 2015

In October, Mark Thompson announced the creation of a new, expanded Operations Group, bringing together the existing Operations division with BBC People (HR and recruitment services) and the externally facing Marketing, Communications & Audiences, including functions as varied as audience telephone helplines and the teams who produce programme trails. And set us the task of streamlining the BBC's support functions.

As well as meeting our existing efficiency targets - we are on schedule to save just under £400million over this financial year - the Operations Group will work with the rest of the BBC to deliver the stretching extra efficiencies required from the new fixed licence fee settlement as well as integrating the BBC World Service and BBC Monitoring with our UK services and building our new relationship with S4C.

Delivering a new licence fee settlement is a key (and unexpected!) foundation for this strategy. Crucially it gives us six years of financial certainty against which to plan. All this change has been as unsettling for some staff as it has been exciting for others, but in many respects for many others recent months have been 'business as usual' for the BBC: we have continued to make world-class programmes like Lip Service and Strictly Come Dancing, and projects like our BBC Bristol city partnership have seen colleagues get more involved in their local community. The pilot is now one year old and is being extended to other locations.

Of our major capital projects, we have successfully tested London's new Broadcasting House and will begin bringing together our news world service and radio services together next year. This allows us to substantially reduce our property footprint in central London and will also allow us to bring the BBC World Service physically closer to our domestic services. In MediaCityUK at Salford, the fit-out is proceeding to programme and the first teams will start moving in early next year.

We are making good progress on digital switchover with just over one in four of the UK population now switched. We recently completed the STV North region (with roughly 610,000 households switched there) and the Channel Islands.

Freeview HD launched in April this year to complement our high definition services already available on satellite and cable, and is growing quickly. More than 500,000 receivers have been sold and more than one in seven of all new televisions now include Freeview HD as standard. We achieved our coverage target of 50% of UK households in time for the FIFA World Cup in July - up to 56% by the end of September.

This autumn has also seen the launch of BBC One HD bringing the excitement of HD to BBC One - the most watched channel in the UK - in time for Christmas.

The digital age has meant that the broadcast and information industries have evolved to move faster than ever before. We have to make sure that we're set up to address new and emerging challenges in the most efficient, effective way.

For me, this means keeping it simple: we need a BBC that is simple to work for, simple to work or partner with, and perhaps most importantly, simple for its audiences to access and use. And we need to stay open, transparent and accountable so that audiences understand the value they get for their licence fees. Achieving that will be the test of the Operations Group's success as we look forward to 2011.

Caroline Thomson is the BBC's Chief Operating Officer


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