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Reorganising BBC News

Helen Boaden | 15:40 UK time, Thursday, 18 October 2007

Just possibly, you might have noticed that this is a big day at the BBC – a day when our vision for the future has been laid out and its consequences in terms of job losses. (You can read an edited version of a speech I gave to the staff of BBC News earlier today.)

NewsroomEssentially, a reduced licence fee settlement, together with tough efficiency targets, mean that we need to radically change the way we work to best serve our many different audiences. In the biggest overhaul of BBC News in 15 years, we are going to become truly multi-media. You can get an idea of what we have in mind from my speech to the staff of BBC News.

We may be reducing posts in News but we don’t plan to reduce quality. As you can see from our list of investments, we’re putting money into good old-fashioned journalism as well as new services via our web. We treasure our specialist talent because we know their skills, expertise and range of contacts add immeasurably to our authority and distinctiveness.

Under our plan, they all come together to deliver their work in audio, video and online. And our big programmes – Today, Newsnight, Panorama – will continue to deliver their excellent journalism on radio and television but with the best websites we can offer, allowing audiences a truly interactive experience if they want it.

Most change is difficult and at times, painful. Undoubtedly we will not find the implementation of all this to be plain sailing. But standing still is not an option because our audiences are changing and we must change with them. As the brilliant architect of our plan, deputy director of news, Adrian Van-Klaveren, wryly pointed out to me today: “This is just the end of the beginning.”

This is an edited version of the speech I gave earlier today.

Welcome – thank you for coming here or tuning into this. You’ve heard Mark Thompson and Sir Michael Lyons talk about the coming six years for the BBC and I am going to give you more detail about the plans for News. I’m sorry that this is going to be a long speech with no jokes because there’s a lot to tell you which is serious and it’s important for me to be as clear as I can.

First let’s talk about the reason BBC News exists – to serve our audiences – and let me talk a little about how audiences are changing the way they consume news and information.


• Consumption of Television News is in decline though I think we should be pleased with how audiences to our big bulletins, especially the Ten, are holding up in a very competitive world. Lots of audiences have stayed loyal but we really struggle to get the younger and C2DE audiences. We've lost 2 million under 35s from TV News since 2001.
• Radio is increasing – remarkably - but under pressure and Online is growing sharply but not enough yet to compensate for the decline in TV viewing.

This pattern of consumption really gets to the heart of our current challenge. There’s a revolution going on in the way people get their news and information driven by digital technology and the growth of on demand platforms like the web. We can see that revolution happening in our own figures: the BBC News website is reaching a weekly unique average of 6 million users in the UK. BBC mobile has reached an all time monthly high for News, Sport and Weather at 2 million users. And seventy-five percent of consumers of news on mobiles are under 44 years old – compared to 25% for the television news bulletins.

Those are real successes. But we urgently need to build on them as our competitors rev up. Newspapers such as The Telegraph and The Guardian are bringing together their print and online operations, moving into podcasting and even broadband television. Sky is putting video at the centre of its websites while Google is expanding and refining its news aggregation service. And we have a powerful new competitor in Channel 4 Radio on DAB and the web.

We can’t afford to rest on our laurels. And fortunately we start from a very good place.

Firstly and most importantly, we are the world’s most trusted provider of News. People rely on us to deliver accurate, fair, impartial and accessible news and current affairs whatever the pressures upon us. We need to hold that trust very dear and make sure we never abuse it.

Across our News and Current Affairs output, we currently reach 80% of the UK’s population every week. By 2012, we aim to have maintained that 80% reach and still be rated number one for Trust and Impartiality. That’s a pretty tall order in a highly competitive world. It means we can’t afford to stand still.

We already have a great track record in keeping ahead in technology. Those who remember the John Birt savings regime may have hated it at the time, but it put BBC News in an incredibly strong position. From those savings came News 24, the BBC News website and Radio 5Live - as well as the creation of the best newsgathering operation in the world and a special place for News and Current Affairs at the heart of the BBC.

Once again, we’re at a moment in our history where we have to make a radical shift in response to our audiences. We have to overhaul the way we do things in BBC News from linear production to non-linear. We have to deliver the journalistic quality people expect of us on the platforms they increasingly take for granted – from mobile phones to YouTube; from digital radio to podcasts; from red button TV to the iPlayer.

We’ve already invested in this new world – both for the technology and for the changing stories we need to cover. We now have a wide range of audio podcasts and have started to develop our on-demand services, like SMS text alerts. We’ve developed both the User Generated Content hub and Newswire. And we’ve invested in our journalism with the new Sports Editor, Mihir Bose, and the Manchester Investigations Unit, which has produced a string of good stories like Allan Little’s report on the conditions facing migrant workers.

But – as Mark Thompson made clear - our savings are not at an end. Over the coming five years, we have to live within a Licence Fee that’s much smaller than we’d hope for - and tough efficiency targets. And from within that smaller pot, we have to take money to invest in the digital future.

In essence, we in News are going to have to find a total of 155 million pounds of savings over five years – that’s an average across News of 3.5 per cent savings a year on Licence fee funding. In return, we’ll get back 75 million pounds between this year and 2012 for investments in our future.

At the heart of our investment plan is My News Now which is crucial to giving people the information they want, when they want it. We believe that in a broadband future, the web will become the chief platform for getting our content out to our audiences. As someone put it “everything will bounce off the web”.

We’ve had a cracking good ten years with our website but it now urgently needs to be updated and overhauled for a web 2.0 world where audiences expect a high level of personalisation and complete ease of navigation.

So through our investments, we’ll be creating major new teams which will develop both video and audio on-demand content. This includes everything from News updates and breaking news to specialist subjects which we know some audiences love – like Technology. We’re investing more in our User Generated Content which has strengthened our journalism through its fresh insights and stories. We’ll build our weather service on the web and further develop the sites of our big brand current affairs programmes like Today, Panorama and Newsnight.

On key topics and issues like health for example, we’ll pull together everything we do including audio and video, into one place on the web so that audiences can find their information easily. And we’ll create new teams to come up with ideas about what audiences will want in future on the new platforms, be it mobile phones or big screens.

As I’ve said, we struggle to reach the Young and C2DEs so
so we’re investing in the new 8 o’clock summary on BBC1, a much better Newsbeat website as well as the new BBC teens service, BBC Switch.

We’ll put more money into reflecting all parts of the United Kingdom through regional journalists working across all platforms. And we’ll strengthen our investment in countries which are increasingly important to the news agenda, notably China and Afghanistan.

And there will be investment in technology which will help us achieve better delivery of material to and from the field.

All these investments – which will pay for technology and coverage as well as people - will create over a hundred new jobs and will be crucial in maintaining the relevance and value of BBC News to all audiences.

But obviously there’s a major challenge here. How are we going respond to the audience revolution in the consumption of news and current affairs – which will only intensify – with less money? How are we going to maintain the quality people expect of us, on the platforms they want – within a much tighter financial regime?

Well the answer is easy to say, but hard to do.

In essence, like the rest of the BBC, we’re going to produce less content overall but aim for much greater impact by making it go further across all platforms.

When I became Director of News I talked about getting rid of “stupid duplication” and I think everyone has made real headway on this over the past three years.

I’m not daft – I know that sometimes you need several people working on the same story simply to make sure we get it first and we get it right. But the truth is that time and again, people in News still complain to me of too much duplication, too many levels of decision making, too many hands touching a single piece of output and not enough sharing of good material.

In the leaner world of the new Licence Fee – we simply can’t afford inefficiency and unjustifiable duplication.

So to make our news simpler and more efficient without damaging its quality, we’re going to change what we do and how we are organised.

We are going to create a multi-media newsroom; a multi-media programmes department a multi-media newsgathering and a multi-media political newsgathering operation at Millbank – all supported by News Production Facilities.

When I arrived here , I was very struck by how much News Interactive and News 24 were sometimes regarded as the outsiders of BBC News. They were just about acknowledged but certainly not loved or given the credit they deserved.

Three years on, they are both even stronger and utterly central to what we do, and we will continue to put them both into the heart of our Newsroom operation.

I am equally sure that some in Radio regret that the bulletins and the programmes are going into different parts of the new structure.

But the truth is that we can’t make the relationships that we think are critical for a new, multi media world without breaking some of those that have worked successfully in the past. However, we will put arrangements in place to make sure that we preserve the best and most important parts of the existing relationships.

So, how will this newly shaped BBC News work ?

I’ll start with the multi media newsroom which will be run by Peter Horrocks, as this involves the largest amount of change. The new Newsroom will include this output.

By bringing our core news services together in one department, our aim is to simplify and speed up decision making, doing less overall but focussing on quality and distinctiveness against the competition on all platforms. Of course, we won’t forget that different audiences need different things. It’s not going to become one homogenous, bland BBC News. The 1800 Bulletin on Radio 4 is not suddenly going to have the same agenda as the Six on BBC 1. The Ten will still have a distinctly different feel from the Six. But there undoubtedly will be much more sharing of material between Breakfast, News 24 and the One and between the Six and the Ten where it’s appropriate.

We really want to reduce the demand on Newsgathering to get the best value from the limited resources we have. And we want to help staff in the new Newsroom develop a range of multi media skills over time.

Decision making should be faster and sharper through the creation of a Multimedia Day Editor, who will oversee the department’s journalism and ensure we get the maximum impact across all platforms. This person is really important and will resolve conflicts within the Newsroom as well as helping us manage the demand on Newsgathering. It’s not a new post but an additional responsibility taken in turn by senior Newsroom editors from TV, radio and Online.

We’ll streamline output by creating a single television team looking after News 24 and BBC1 bulletins based on the first floor. Staff will work across all output but there will be dedicated effort for the Six and the Ten. News 24 will broadcast from N6, while the Six will move to TC7.

All these changes will mean a simpler and more coherent commissioning process with material shared more effectively across TV News. The simplification also allows relatively higher savings at senior editorial levels, retaining as many producers as possible.

A new Media On-Demand area will focus on the commissioning, production and publication of audio and video content for On-Demand platforms. As I’ve already said, this is a key area for new investment though it will mean the phased closure of the existing AV unit as its functions become part of the new operation.

We’ll simplify how we do things by having decision makers in the same place on the first floor, this will mean a simpler and more coherent commissioning process with material shared more effectively across TV News

The Newsroom has taken the biggest share of our efficiencies at five per cent a year over five years. I know some of you think that is incredibly unfair. The phrase Year Zero has been used by some in Television News. Equally, others think this is all simply a take over by Television News of Radio and Online.


On the money front, I think it’s easier to make significant savings if you’re a new department embracing new ways of working and bringing together teams which overlap.
It’s also worth remembering that the Newsroom is getting the highest level of reinvestment through My News Now. So it’s not a simple story of the newsroom losing out but of the shift from linear to non-linear output which we believe is vital and urgent.

I can also see why Online and Radio fear a Television takeover given the power of TV in the dynamics of any newsroom. But our new Newsroom will have failed if it short changes our radio bulletins or website. There’ll be no brownie points for those who focus solely on the big Television Bulletins for example. Indeed, the creation of the Multi Media Editor is precisely about making sure everyone in the top team has an investment in making this work for all platforms.

The other new pillar in BBC News will be the Multi Media Programmes department which will be headed by Steve Mitchell. Here are some of the big brands which will be going into the new department.

This new department will bring together our major daily and weekly current affairs brands outside Political Programmes, our investigative journalism and our big interview programmes – as well as those services for audiences we find hard to reach like Newsbeat and the Asian Network. It will be the powerhouse for the kind of original journalism which distinguishes the BBC from all its competitors – be it a brilliant interview on Today or Hard Talk, a joint Panorama and 5Live investigation; a collaboration between Newsnight and File on 4 or a great grass roots story from the Asian Network which crosses to Radio One and the World Service. What’s more, the Programmes Department will have the benefit of the best and most sophisticated websites for its key programme brands – the so called Gold Sites.

The Programmes Department will of course get a good service from Newsgathering – the idea that programmes like News Night or Today being stranded without the right Newsgathering talent on a big story is plainly ridiculous and will not happen. But it won’t all be one way traffic. The Programmes department will be expected to ensure its original journalism and interviews are widely shared across BBC News.

I believe that the creation of this new multi media department is a huge opportunity to capitalise on our original journalism and our people. By joining up in this way, we can make much more of the exceptional current affairs expertise we have to find and break genuinely new stories and to add analysis and insight to the main agenda. No other broadcaster in the world has our rich portfolio of programmes. And frankly, up till now I don’t think we’ve made the most of their collective power. The Programmes Department should change all that.

The savings target for the Programmes Department is just over three per cent a year over five years – overall less than for the Newsroom because they have less intrinsic duplication. As with the Newsroom, there are different targets for areas commissioned by Audio and Music, the Global Division and Vision.

For Television Current Affairs, this is a big change. Like Radio Current Affairs, they’ve long cherished their independence as a free standing department. But the economics of the new Licence Fee as outlined by Mark and Jana Bennett this morning, make that an unrealistic ambition.

All the channels will still fulfil their Statements of Programme Promises but there are likely to be fewer opportunities for Current Affairs, as a department, beyond its core output. However, the total picture of Current Affairs from all its suppliers remains strong - with of 48 Panoramas a year plus 8 hour long current affairs specials, 12 and a half hours of the One Show, 13 and a half hours of This World and some strong Landmark series on BBC 2 and seasons on BBC 3.

In this situation, I don’t think TV Current Affairs can sustain itself as a small stand alone department. But its journalism is too important for it simply to become merged into Vision Studios, although its funding will continue to come through Vision. That’s why I have made it a key part of the new Programmes Department.

In this way, I’m confident that TV Current Affairs will get all the editorial backing it needs to continue do tough and challenging journalism which upholds BBC News values.

However, it can’t afford to lose touch with the production processes of long form Television. So the department will physically sit alongside Factual where staff will have the chance to work on a range of Factual projects as well as Current Affairs.

I hope that these changes will mean that TV Current Affairs will benefit from an even closer connection to BBC News and our journalistic ethos without losing its vital creative connection with Vision.

For 5Live there’s a different challenge. There are two things going on: the move to Salford and the need to save money. By 2011, Radio 5Live will be based in Salford. We plan to have a vibrant and cohesive Radio Station with a clear remit to report the whole of the UK. At that point, it would be taking parts of the a core audio service produced by the Multimedia newsroom in London and adding a marginal amount of bespoke versioning by using material from within its own programmes. That’s along the lines of the model already followed by Radio One in Yalding House and the Asian Network in Leicester.

But because 5Live must bear the brunt of the savings on News from by Audio and Music, we have decided it makes more sense to start that new arrangement right now. That means responsibility for collating 5Live’s bulletins and summaries from a core audio bulletin will move from the Newsroom into the programmes that contain them. We’ll also integrate into 5Live all the out-of-London radio reporter effort currently managed across Radio News.

There’s also some change ahead at Bush House.
Formally, the newsroom and World Briefing will now be part of the new Newsroom while Current Affairs, The World Today and News Hour will be part of the Programmes department.

Operationally, World Service News and Current Affairs will work as a team so there will still be movement of people between different areas. These arrangements will allow us to maintain and enhance the quality of our output for World Service as well as offering more possibilities for collaboration between radio and online activity. It will put us in a great position for how we will want to work when both News and World Service move to W1 in 2012.The World Service savings target for output over the next three years will be 7 per cent in total and in Newsgathering five per cent in total over the next three years.

So, we have the new multi media Newsroom and the new multi media Programmes department and of course we have Newsgathering which, along with Millbank Newsgathering, has an efficiency target of 3% a year.

The difference in targets is deliberate. Although not immune from the efficiencies, it is essential that Newsgathering remains equipped to service both the new Newsroom and the new Programmes Department. We can’t afford to jeopardise our story-gathering capacity or specialist content.

Specialism is at the heart of what makes BBC News distinctive and authoritative. But we need to make much more of it across all platforms. By bringing together the specialist journalists currently working for News Interactive with those working for Newsgathering, we can create specialist units which are genuinely multimedia.
These will concentrate on these subject areas – though the titles here aren’t definitive.

The Newsgathering Sports News team will transfer into BBC Sport with whom they already work closely on a daily basis. We hope that will improve the impact of our sports journalism.

In the future, clear decisions about priorities will be even more important than they are now.

Our aim is for the new Newsroom to talk to Newsgathering with a much more coherent voice than currently. And the Programmes Department will have a figure whose job is to be a single point of contact with Newsgathering for the varied range of output in that department.

However, it will still be important for Newsgathering to use its usual good sense and judgement about how to prioritise between the Newsroom and the Programmes department should conflicts ever arise.

Finally there are two other departments:

Millbank – the home of our Political Newsgathering and Political programmes like Question Time, remains extremely important for the BBC. In future, it will fully integrate its website operations into the rest of its activities.

And News Production Facilities, which will continue its responsibilities for technology, support and operations across News.

So there you have the new shape of BBC News – and the senior team.

Our range will be narrower at the margins – though still far richer than any of our competitors – but its quality should be as high as anything we do now. And through multi platform working, all our audiences should have more chance to enjoy the best of our work.

The reality is that we have to get used to a tougher financial environment. Because of the smaller Licence Fee, every part of the BBC will have less money in six year’s time than it has now. But Journalism will in fact be getting a higher proportion of the BBC’s total spend on content in six year’s time than it is now.

It’s true that within the Journalism family, we’ve made strategic decisions about where to invest most money. And Nations and Regions and their ambitious plans for a comprehensive broad band service across sixty different sites – My Local Now - have been given more investment money than News or Sport. I was part of that strategic decision and I think it’s the right call. My Local Now is as fundamental to the long term success of the BBC and its journalism as my News Now. It’s an entirely fresh way of delivering local news and information and it forms a great complement to My News Now and My Sport Now.

My Local Now will give a great news and information service to an audience which we in News find very hard to reach – the C2DEs. They form over forty percent of the population and right now, they don’t think the BBC gives them enough value in our journalism especially in our local coverage. My Local Now aims to change that.

And it’s also worth remembering that over the next six years, the British public – through the Licence Fee – will pay six billion pounds for BBC journalism. That’s six billion pounds guaranteed to News, Sport and Nations and Regions.

Now it’s true that there are a lot of calls on that six billion pounds. But I imagine that there are several poor countries and most of our competitors who would give their eye teeth for guaranteed income on that massive scale.

As we enter what will undoubtedly be a period of turbulence for BBC News and the whole of the organisation, it’s worth remembering how we look from the outside. How we look to the people who pay our wages and that six billion pounds of guaranteed income for all of BBC Journalism. And it may be worth reminding ourselves – possibly with a touch of humility – that the Licence Fee is a privilege, not a right. And we should never take that privilege for granted.

Everyone in the BBC - including all of us in BBC News - is going to have to get used to the fact that we’re becoming a smaller organisation. That means we’ll be doing less original output and that will feel very odd. Nothing in our DNA is about doing less.

But as we get used to that, we’ll discover that what we do deliver for our audiences can be just as good as now – possibly even better - and that BBC News can still make a real difference to their understanding of the world.

And that is the point of all of this. We must never lose sight of how our audiences are changing.

There’s a phrase I sometimes use: “You can’t sack the audience. But they can sack you. “

Whether we like it or not, cheap digital technology means audiences of all ages have more choice than ever before and with that choice, comes the freedom to find their news from any source in the world.

If the BBC is to remain the world’s best and most trusted source of news for people who can get their information from anywhere, then this is the moment when we start on our difficult journey of change into a truly multi media world - while never losing sight of our values or our journalistic purpose.

I honestly believe that BBC News has everything to gain from the changes I’ve outlined. Yes – it would have been easier to be doing them in a more benign financial climate; yes, there are likely to be set backs and difficulties as the changes work through. Nothing in history has ever worked 100% first time and we must be open, honest and flexible when things go wrong.

And certainly for those whose jobs are at risk, I am acutely aware that this is a painful and anxious time. Nothing I say about the future of the BBC is of any comfort if your job is closing. And since most of us find most change difficult, the coming months of uncertainty are likely to be tough for everyone.

But we have to deal with the world as it is not how we might like it to be.

Looking ahead, the potential prize for BBC News is huge and incredibly important.

In our online, radio and TV news services, we’re already the market leaders in UK journalism. By coming together in the way I’ve outlined – in an equal partnership – I have no doubt that we can create the best multi platform news service in the world, founded in our reputation for trust and our values of accuracy, impartiality and fairness. Our audiences deserve no less.

Our competitors and our enemies would love to see us flinch and slowly fade away like an empire whose time is over.

We mustn’t let that happen.

We owe it to our audiences to embrace the changes in technology - as they are doing - and take this new world in our stride.


Comments

  • 1.
  • At 05:14 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • James wrote:

Please stop it with this "licence fee" thing. It is a tax not a fee.

And honestly you should feel happy you are getting anything as if the bulk of the country had their way you would have to fund yourselves rather than leeching off the tax payer.

  • 2.
  • At 05:20 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Mike wrote:

"As the brilliant architect of our plan"

Shameful piece of propoganda - from the director of news no less.

Is this what we can expect in the new era??

  • 3.
  • At 05:29 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Tony Bryer wrote:

Can you please start by firing the person whose job it is to overlay TV news stories with 'noise'. I presume this is meant for dramatic effect but it does nothing to aid comprehension - quite the opposite - and is an insult to the person whose words we are trying to hear.

  • 4.
  • At 05:35 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Michael Collett wrote:

It is sad to see so many job losses envisaged at the BBC. What a pity that some of the exorbitant fees paid to a few high paid but low talented performers, such as Jonathan Ross could not be reduced to reflect their true worth and thereby save the careers of a few, more talented, back stagers.

As an overseas reader of your excellent web sites, I recognise the need for your advertising revenue if it helps you to maintain your high standards. I would even be willing to pay a licence fee, if this were possible.

  • 5.
  • At 05:38 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Oscar Nowak wrote:

You're right, change isn't easy. May I congratulate BBC 4 on the Dylan night. Brilliant. May I also say that as the times are changing, I think BBC has a huge responsiblility on its shoulders. These days you've got to keep your ears close to the ground. I have heard it said recently, that the BBC 10 o clock news is becoming too popularised. The person responsible for this comment prefers Channel 4, early evening news. Not everybody gets back in time for the trumpets though.

The main point is, we live in a democarcy, we want freedom to choose what we want, when we want. So many documentaries, mockumentraries, rockumentaries which are just great. But there is a time and place for everything. I never thought I'd hear myself say this, but WE STILL NEED AUNTIE. We need the BBC to continue producing Questiontime and other such soul searching programmes. Why do we need this? Because much like the children left to their own devices in Golding's classic, if the public are left to their own devices their viewing habits will become so base not even Jonathan Ross will be able to cater for them.

Sigh. The more I read about these job losses and cutbacks the sadder I get. Quite why some people believe that the license fee is bad value for money I'll never understand- for the sheer width and breadth of programming it's unbeatable.

It's also especially sad to see it affecting news output, of all things.
While it may be more expensive than other parts of the corporation (those derided 'reality' shows are, after all, cheap to make and unlikely to face the chop) it definitely represents the best value for money.

On a more personal note, I shall be starting post-graduate studies soon to become a journalist, and had always seen the BBC as my ideal destination. I suspect that competition for jobs at BBC News will be very fierce from now on.

Still, at least there's more chance of being taken on for work experience placements- I imagine there will be a few spare desks around.

  • 7.
  • At 05:55 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Walter Ellis wrote:

The upshot of what the BBC is announcing today is that the BBC is about to get worse. It has been getting worse for a long time, but now the process is to be accelerated. It is being prepared, long-term, for privatisation, and no amount of executive-speak can conceal this fact from the public.

I am a big fan of the BBC news site and use it every day. I am confident that I shall like it less in the future.

Gawd help us all!

  • 8.
  • At 06:00 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Whitley Strieber wrote:

Why not offer the full service for those of us abroad on a subscription basis? I am certain that this would generate significant revenue. I am a frequent user of the site, a fan of the news and especially Radio 4's dramatic offerings. Full access as available in the UK would be worth as much to me as my sub to FT, for example, for which I pay $150.00 per annum.

This website is the best online for news. The US ones pale in comparison.

  • 10.
  • At 06:27 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Phil Choppen wrote:

I read Helen Boaden's piece with a mix of conflicting emotions. I was delighted to read that the BBC is looking to address how it can work within a budget and, like most sectors of the UK population, find ways to be leaner and more effective. I was also pleased to read that high standards of news reporting will be maintained.

However, this delight was tinged with increasing frustration at the BBC institution. This behemoth organization that straddles the corporate world is reported in every newscast to be 'surprised' at the cuts that are being imposed. I consider this to be symptomatic of an attitude bordering on arrogance. The BBC had taken their customer-based funding for granted to the extent that they had committed huge quantities of money within the Corporation, that had yet to be granted. This may be leverage in financial organizations but I must have missed the declaration that the BBC had moved into mainstream monetary risk management.

This clearly signposts a view that the BBC do not, and never have sought to 'cut their cloth' for the benefit of the Licence Fee payers. With a rising resentment, I would ask if now is the time for the BBC to consider an effective and realistic business plan that has, as its eventual core aim, the removal of the fee payers from the funding equation? Perhaps this should be considered a shot across the bows!

As a first step I was heartened to note that the BBC Blogs will appear to overseas viewers, financed in part at least, by the appearance of advertisements. At last!! The UK Licence holders will be given a chance to reduce their BBC-imposed philanthropic contribution to endeavours that are spread for the benefit of the whole world. I wonder if the next step might be providing access to BBC Web services ONLY to those who type in a valid TV Licence Number? Access for all others through subscription services. Now that would be returning some value to your actual customers, wouldn't it? Coincidently, the scale of subscriptions would also provide some measure of value and popularity. As we all know, of course it is popular ..... its free!

Returning to Helen's words, she offers the useable phrase "You can't sack the audience. But they can sack you". Unfortunately, no matter how many times she may choose to use the phrase, it will still be an empty threat, since the audience has no more chance of sacking the BBC than they have of not paying for a TV Licence (criminal behaviour notwithstanding).

Thanks for this opportunity to have a say on something that has galvanized this normally passive person. I really enjoy huge volumes of what the BBC has to offer, but that does not stop me from believing the BBC has actually forgotten who and what is important to their existence.

Thank you.

Phil Choppen.

  • 11.
  • At 06:28 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Myra Watt wrote:

Whilst I have every sympathy for the many families who must be wondering if they will be affected by the proposed redundancies at the BBC, I have to admit I have limited sympathy for the journalists. In the past, they have already taken on the task of cutting their own material, thus getting rid of the need of editors. Now they all seem to want to be video journalists, filming their own material. What is that old truism - jack of all trades, master of none? The results on screen are all too obvious - and no, wobblevision is not "a new technique". It is shoddy work.

I really really hope that "multiskilling" is not going to be the result of these proposals - it is NOT what I pay my licence fee for. I want properly trained staff doing their own job, not someone else's.

  • 12.
  • At 06:29 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Celyn wrote:

Why cut staff in news? Why not cut overblown management? Or "entertainment"? BBC's greatest strengths are the quality of its news coverage and its factual/documentary work. These and only these will set it apart from all competitors in the future. When everyone else is trying to entertain, please, BBC, remain the broadcaster that thinking people can rely on.

  • 13.
  • At 06:39 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Iain Wylie wrote:

I really hope with all this restructuring and change you can preserve the quality and variety of content. The idea about using ad's is a great idea, also I would encourage you to try and maybe sell programming to the US market more. My friends and I trade around BBC stories that we enjoy. We've used BBC stories for fun (e.g. the story about indian men needing smaller condoms, a friend of mine gave to her indian ex-boyfriend) or the one where the uruguayen president said "Its like hitting your wife just in case she did something wrong." BBC is my lifeline to the world and what is going on. I'm an engineering student and I keep up with world affairs by having news.bbc.co.uk as my homepage.

Please, please don't subject us to torture by having us watch US news. Also there is a large number of people that don't really want to watch a story or hear it, they just want to read it. I know a few US news organizations have felt the need to step up technology they think and put all of their content in video. Thats bandwith heavy and not convenient in most situations. Also I read fairly fast and like to pause on some sections. Audio or Video is the same speed.

So this was less of a response directly to that speech and I know that you stressed that the quality wouldn't change. I just wanted to stress that the international audience, especially the US university population supports BBC online.

Is there a possibility also that you could set up a way for international viewers to donate to the BBC? Not as something you necessarily push on people, don't make people have to register to view the site, but have a link in the upper corner allowing us to make donations. Its a weird concept donating to a corporation, but its between the site being completely free and paying a subscription. So people that appreciate the work ya'll do can "tip" basically. Look at Wikipedia, its a free site supported by the people, written by the people and i'm fairly sure they employ people.

My friends and I also would probably pay a fee for content like sports matches that we can view here in the states. Sadly they don't show that much rugby here.

  • 14.
  • At 06:48 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • ken wrote:

What-if change was hard in the past for those who thought it was (men in suits!), but didn't need to be in a more creative, less formulaic way. I'm just an armchair quarterback, so, just asking.

What-if we accepted that the under 35's are turning off and the under 20's won't understand why we turned on. What-if we stopped programming and created a platform, gathering stories from millions of editors.

Just someone who prefers R4 news at 10, even better than C4 :)

  • 15.
  • At 07:00 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Gareth wrote:

"We may be reducing posts in News but we don’t plan to reduce quality."

Too late.

  • 16.
  • At 07:05 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Alex Swanson wrote:

"we don’t plan to reduce quality"

eg

How could you reduce the quality of reporting on - for example - gun crime and gun control laws when all you do is unthinkingly recycle govt propaganda?

I should hope you don't plan on reducing quality, the BBC News website is pretty close to poor quality as it is, how much worse do you think it can get, seriously? Do you ever actually read the appalling standard of journalism on the BBC News website, there is not enough time in the day to draw it to your attention, not that anyone listens very often anyway. I paid my licence fee for 30 years, not that it makes any difference to you. The BBC News site is shoddy, I hope that when the merger takes place, the first to shown the door is the website editorial staff, so some actual professionals can take over the reins especially as you are intending to add advertising, please do(n't) let that advertising be animated... otherwise we can just block it with a simple programme LoL

  • 18.
  • At 07:16 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • M Dawson wrote:

I can see that the BBC is having to so much more with much less money but can I ask how the BBC hopes to target its advertising to specific countries - and monitor the quality of that advertising.

If Yahoo/Google is anything to go by the advertising is poor, and would not attract the lowest number of acceptable 'click throughs' for advertisers. Few people delude themselves that advertising on the net works very well - except for the undesirable advertising no-one wants!

M Dawson
(New Zealand)

  • 19.
  • At 07:47 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • John Cole wrote:

How about some lateral thinking: There are many of us stuck overseas who rely on the BBC for our news and entertainment.

You have a golden opporunity to raise revenue through subscription, and many of us would happily pay as long as we could keep the BBC news site the way it is, and have access to "See Again" streaming media.

Then let those people that don't want a premium service suffer advertising.

There is also a danger of advertisers trying to call the shots on content, and that would be highly undesirable.

Well, if the reports that the BBC sends teams of 12 to interview someone while Sky manages with three or four, then there is a lot of fat to be trimmed from the BBC.

Either way, those of us who see the licence "fee" as illiberal and unjustifiable welcome these changes.

By the way, how much did the BBC just spend on buying Lonely Planet Books?

  • 21.
  • At 09:09 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Kurt wrote:

I hope that you also offer a fee-based subscription service that will allow international users continued unfettered access.

  • 22.
  • At 09:16 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • L.Ellis wrote:

I have watched the BBC news for many years. I am being put off the news as the amount of time spent on news from abroad, it is getting longer and the local issues are not being addressed in sufficient depth. I understand we have to have some coverage of foriegn news but why these long reports by the likes of Julian Manning which I am sure, like me, must put veiwers off,plus similar reports from other reporters, some of the content of which looks as though it has been staged. I think a more in depth coverage of local news would be more appropiate and would focus more people on matters that concern them more. The amount of expenditure on foriegn news must be very costly when you consider all the backup needed to produce a news item.Cutting back on the foriegn assingments would allow more money to help save more jobs?

  • 23.
  • At 09:37 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • M wrote:

There is a distinct lack of granularity in the plans. I really think you do not fully understand how the BBC works. This is not your fault or Mark Thompson's or even the Trust's. You might as well say it is all part of Creative Futures as is all future strategy under this undefined umbrella term.

All very negative. But the problem is that you can't possibly know what is happening at the BBC if there is little tangible evidence of decisions, choices, and opinions made by the management framework.

Please consider why the management have avoided blogs for so long, and focus your energy on targetting the areas that don't work, as will be revealed by having blogs across the organisation. You're not working for the secret service, it's the BBC.

  • 24.
  • At 09:39 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Adrian wrote:

Please take the opportunity to modernise the site as well ,it is looking very dowdy and old fashioned. Despite what others say it does not look as good as a lot of US sites. I would like to see it looking more like the Guardian and the NY times sites in style.

  • 25.
  • At 09:42 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • John Barbuto wrote:

The BBC has, for me, been a breath of fresh air - even thought I live where the air is pretty fresh in rural Utah, in the US. I'm impressed by the balance of the reporting and by the insightfulness of questions posed by reporters (I'm particularly a fan of BBC Podcasts). So, if you have to advertise to continue such quality then this end-user would cheer you on.

As you approach the topic I would hope you would learn from Google (in which I have no interests). They look anonymously at the content of email and then quietly post ads which are relevant to the mail sender or recipient based on keywords seen in the content. The ads are not distracting, flashy affairs; rather, quiet presentations of potentially useful offerings.

So, thanks for all you do. I recognize it isn't free. Send your ads along as you need to.

J Barbuto

While I really enjoy watching BBC America, and BBC World News America, and keeping in touch with friends in the UK via the BBC website, you've got to move with the times.

I'm an expat. I learned long ago that concepts such as Monarchy, paying a "license" "fee" to receive radio broadcasts, and other changes in British society (government intrusion, etc.) were not for me. But it's amusing how many non-expats don't see the problem here with how you guys are funded. People are totally happy to pay a "fee" to an (heavily outsourced, to Capita, if I recall correctly) outside commercial organization that would prosecute its own grandmother, if needed.

Readers, viewers, and others will, eventually, get the point. This won't likely come until the point when you have to make more sacrifices just to compete with the other broadcasters, but it will come in the end. At least, I hope so.

It's not a sad day for the BBC, it's the start of a wakeup call. And it might take 10 years, it might take even more, but eventually, you'll get it...the world doesn't work how you think it does :-)

Jon.

  • 27.
  • At 09:47 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Andrew Webb wrote:

Here we go again, another BBC person trying to say why a smaller Licence Fee means the Beeb have to cut jobs yet Ross and Eastenders waste money that could be used to keep Jobs as well as the countless useless Jobs like inetractive services that can be shared out.
So if the Licence Fee is small now, how come the BBC has survived for so long on it!
Also why cant all bbc.com websites be plastered with adverts so that those cheating the Licence Fee by living abroad can stiop cheating us out of money!

  • 28.
  • At 09:52 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Liam Coughlan wrote:

Its simple. Put BBC UK news and current affairs on the web, and charge for it.

  • 29.
  • At 10:00 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Euphobia wrote:

Reorganizing the BBC is never going to be easy but the bit that has staggered me is the decision to sell off the BBC Television Centre and move TV production to the North of England. What a mistake!

This may seem a cheaper to decentralize but think of the travel and accommodation costs for artists and production staff. White City is so central and easy to get to!

Selling off the family silver is never a good idea and whether one likes it or not The BBC Centre has become a world icon. It is instantly recognizable. Like the towers of Wembley Stadium it will be missed.

Strangely I lived next to the BBC Centre or three years, the back door entrance being Frithville Gardens although while I was there I was never invited in!

The BBC has never been easy to work for. It demands much and pays little but its output is excellent. To have one's programme shown on the BBC is a privilege. I should have loved to work for the BBC. Tried all my life but I was not wanted on voyage. but I did get one of my programmes shown admittedly with a fuss so I made it eventually

Todays TV production staff are multi skilled. Reporters can now present, film and edit their items and teams of specialists are no longer required. It is a new age but very exciting but don't sell the TV Centre. You'll live to regret it marks my words.

  • 30.
  • At 10:06 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Mike S wrote:

Perhaps James (comment no 1) could make a start on reducing his taxes by avoiding using a service he clearly despises. I'm sure the BBC quote website visits when asking the govt for funding.

It's interesting how the BBC's most vitriolic critics are often the heaviest users of the site. Or did you just get lucky being the first to comment, James?

  • 31.
  • At 10:27 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • EJT wrote:

One way of helping the BBC's finances would be by charging for putting out religious programmes and party political broadcasts.

If the BBC is to be used as a propaganda vehicle by faith and political sects, it should at least get paid for showing their advertisements.

  • 32.
  • At 10:38 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Kocsonya wrote:

If the BBC News starts to depend on advertising then its objectivity is gone. It's not going to be independent, it will bark according to the whistle of its (pay)master. Google can advertise and remain (more or less) independent, because their service is totally independent of ideology and politics. News, on the other hand, is political/ideological (apart from tabloid rated stuff) and its dependence on external finances naturally biases it.

The BBC has been considered as THE objective and reliable source of news. Not for any much longer, sadly.

  • 33.
  • At 10:54 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Richard Coggins wrote:

For all those who whine about the licence fee (and yes it is a fee, not a tax; you're not compelled by law to have a television), you should see what it's like abroad. This afternoon I signed up for US cable tv: $55 a month for a lot of really rubbish channels and a few I do want. For 11 pounds a month to have the best TV, radio and news website in the world, that's not much in my book.

I'm sorry for all the BBC News employees who are about to lose their jobs. They are victims of the pernicious News International anti-licence fee lobbying campaign. Stay strong Auntie!

  • 34.
  • At 10:56 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Mark Macdonald wrote:

If the extra revenue would maintain the BBC online international edition's level of quality, as a daily user, I would be happy to pay a subscription fee if it meant I did not have to look at advertising.

Der Spiegel has an excellent site for news and commentary, but some of the most irritating ads - they blink and wobble, and generally make reading difficult.

The international news site from the BBC is leaps and bounds ahead of any other source for news on the Internet. Allowing this level of quality to quietly disappear would be a great shame.

Whoever heard of a 5000-word blog post? Did anyone *actually* read all of this before posting? I'd be suprised.

  • 36.
  • At 11:25 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • David Mc Neill wrote:

I wonder how well a contribution campaign similar to the US NPR/PBS networks would work out instead of advertisements and subscription. I'm certain many would love to contribute to the BBC in order to ensure that we the public are the ones being served. Certainly this would be as odious as campaign time such as just wrapped up locally for my local NPR station, but it is much better than dealing with adverts.

  • 37.
  • At 11:40 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Philip Hunt wrote:

I'm so pleased to see a speech by the director of BBC news on a news blog. This kind of propagandist clap-trap ('coming together to deliver news' indeed - presumably we received our sound and vision separately before!) will combine with advertising to ensure that it gets added to my long list of blocked sites.

As a Mac user I'm excluded from your new DRM crippled Windows-only iPlayer feed. So I guess the ads won't bother me as you've already decided only Microsoft users can watch video feed. A decision made by ex-MS Ashley Highfield.

Rather ironic you stole the "i" prefix from the Apple product line and excluded its users.

  • 39.
  • At 12:03 AM on 19 Oct 2007,
  • Greg Ederer wrote:

Considering the blow to its international standing that the UK has suffered in connexion with the Iraq war, I should think that funding the BBC, which continues to command great respect throughout the world, would be a top priority. BBC is the voice of Britain, and, to literally billions people, the voice of Western civilization.

What is more, the BBC provides a shared experience among people from all nations and social and economic strata. I cannot say how many times I have struck up a conversation with someone in the developing world about what was playing on the BBC. In these critical times, we need more and better such bridges, not fewer and lesser.

If the BBC begins to rely on advertising income, many people will develop the perception that the company's reporting is biased, even if it is not. How will Nigerians respond to having their news sponsored by Chevron, e.g.?

As I am outside the UK, I would gladly pay a fee directly to BBC for access to content without adverts, and in order to subsidize access for viewers and listeners less fortunate than I.

  • 40.
  • At 12:10 AM on 19 Oct 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

Methinks the lady doth protest too much. In 10,000 words or less Helen, tell us why a multibillion dollar cut in the BBC's budget is going to result in better service to its customers. Who are you trying to convince with that long winded rhetorical speech, your fellow employees? Yourself? You certainly didn't convince any of your audience. The end of the beginning or the beginning of the end? BBC has had endless problems with the technology of its website for probably well over a year and hasn't managed to get it fixed yet. Why should it be any better with severe budget cutbacks. The best thing to have done, and I suggested it a long time ago was to fire everyone involved and get people who actually knew what they were doing. It's this kind of waste which has resulted in Brits feeling they are not getting good value for money for their tax (thinly disguised in the term license fee) from BBC and that is why the blank check they've asked for and gotten in the past is a thing of the past, the gravy train ride is over. It should also be over for all of the fluff BBC has lavished itself in. Why does BBC staff need to go all over the world to conduct programs like World Have Your Say in every single corner of the earth? How many millions does it take to pack up your "kit" (and kaboodle) and fly off to Timbuktu every other week to hear what some local has to say about whether or not this politician or that religious leader is making people happy there? BBC has had far far too much money to experiment with and expand into areas that have nothing to do with its mandate, to gather the facts and report the news. In fact it has gotten so bad at it, it has forgotten what the difference is between reporting the news and editorializing it, the two having become virtually inseparably intertwined except to the most sophisticated in its audience who sees through its ploys. BBC, the first day of rude awakening has arrived. Believe me, there are many more to come, and some may be far worse. There may come a day when the very justification for the BBC's existance will be taken into serious question and it is all basically a result of top to bottom gross mismanagement. Maybe you should all go on strike like the French train workers. The only problem with that is that no one might notice anything different.

  • 41.
  • At 12:12 AM on 19 Oct 2007,
  • Devin wrote:

My God, if every company was as open and honest as this speech seems to portray the BBC the world would be a much better place to work.

It is not uncommon in the States for people to find out they are fired (make redundant) when their security cards stop working.

Bravo to the BBC.

You just need to get rid of the contributors you have who comment on the news rather than report it. This way we can have less philosophising, forecasting, campaigning and gossiping and more news.

Give the politics back to the politicians, stop pretending you are representing us and simply tell us what is happening.

  • 43.
  • At 12:16 AM on 19 Oct 2007,
  • Heba Hossenally wrote:

Well then this site will become like the other news we have here in the USA. What is going to differentiate it from the ADD inducing media in the US? There goes the last piece of "British" toned down ways I had growing up in Mauritius

  • 44.
  • At 12:23 AM on 19 Oct 2007,
  • Paul D wrote:

24. Andrew Webb wrote:

" - those cheating the Licence Fee by living abroad can stiop cheating us out of money!"

Most of us who live abroad have very good reasons for doing so. Many of us pay substantial subscriptions to have BBC programing in our satellite or cable packages much of which doubtless finds its way back to the BBC and those of us who use BBC web sites are only doing what domestic users are also able to do.

The idea that anyone in their right mind would use emigration as the ultimate licence evasion tool is frankly pathetic.

  • 45.
  • At 12:28 AM on 19 Oct 2007,
  • Thomas wrote:

It seems like there's far too many nay-sayers commenting here, so I'll chime in to support everyone at the BBC (rather than complain).

Keep up the good work. Spooks, Top Gear, Doctor Who, and Robin Hood are excellent programmes, and I find BBC News very reliable.

  • 46.
  • At 12:37 AM on 19 Oct 2007,
  • Quentin Hall wrote:

I must be one of the international "leechers" that the BBC feel that must have adverts to pay for my use. Our own Australian ABC doesn't charge for international use.

So far the video adverts carried on the BBC broadband are 30 seconds long with the video news piece often being shorter than the advert preceding it.

Once is enough to see the advert - not EVERY video clip you open. That's working AGAINST you, especially when the video adverts appear to promote US firms which have little relevance to Australians (and most OTHER countries except the USA).

  • 47.
  • At 12:57 AM on 19 Oct 2007,
  • Gareth wrote:

The BBC have sucked at the teat of taxpayer's money and grown obese.

"Consumption of Television News is in decline though I think we should be pleased with how audiences to our big bulletins, especially the Ten, are holding up in a very competitive world. Lots of audiences have stayed loyal but we really struggle to get the younger and C2DE audiences. We've lost 2 million under 35s from TV News since 2001."

"This pattern of consumption really gets to the heart of our current challenge. There’s a revolution going on in the way people get their news and information driven by digital technology and the growth of on demand platforms like the web. We can see that revolution happening in our own figures: the BBC News website is reaching a weekly unique average of 6 million users in the UK."

Could it be the audience is tiring of shouty, over enunciating newsreaders (on all the channels) and goes elsewhere for it? Address the problems with what you currently broadcast rather then throw good tax money after bad chasing audiences who do not want you.

The BBC news website is for the most part clear, convenient, concise and a fantastic asset. Akin to an ever updated (though often stealth edited) newspaper. If I've read the headlines and news articles on a computer when I really should have been working I have no inclination to watch the news on the telly. This does not automatically mean I want more 'web'.

In recent years BBC output has favoured quantity over quality. Perhaps it is time for a change.

"We’ve had a cracking good ten years with our website but it now urgently needs to be updated and overhauled for a web 2.0 world where audiences expect a high level of personalisation and complete ease of navigation."

Do they? A similarly specious arguement was ejaculated by Stephen Murphy on Newsnight earlier this week. Is this another one of those things the BBC learns from pointless focus groups and management courses? Change is not automatically good, especially if poorly implemented and poor value for money. Choice is not automatically good if the quality of choice declines.

"As we enter what will undoubtedly be a period of turbulence for BBC News and the whole of the organisation, it’s worth remembering how we look from the outside. How we look to the people who pay our wages and that six billion pounds of guaranteed income for all of BBC Journalism. And it may be worth reminding ourselves – possibly with a touch of humility – that the Licence Fee is a privilege, not a right. And we should never take that privilege for granted."

The repeated framing of the licence fee settlement as a 'cut' when it is merely less then what the BBC demanded demonstrates you do take it for granted and are lacking in humility. It obviously never occurred to anyone at the BBC (save for Jeff Randall who had the good sense to leave) that it has been receiving an undeserved income and could not continue.

  • 48.
  • At 01:02 AM on 19 Oct 2007,
  • Richard Whittaker wrote:

Can we just cut to the chase and close the BBC? That's the only end-game here.

The ridicuous idea that the beeb can cut staff and increase output through increased multimedia content is a death-by-a-thousand-budget-cuts. It's being killed, and the world - yes, the world - will see this as one of the greatest losses in the history of media.

  • 49.
  • At 01:09 AM on 19 Oct 2007,
  • jo green wrote:

BBC 1 & 2's schedule seems to be mostly reality tv now.
Panorama is reduced to 1/2 an hour.
I wonder if newsnight will suffer next?
I am not interested in choice - just quality factual programmes and classic and modern well directed and acted dramas
- the 4 original channels did me fine - I have had had a chance to watch all the other new digital channels for over a year now and there's nothing much worth watching at all.

The whole choice thing and analogue sell off is a disaster. I learnt recently from the You and Yours programme on the analogue switch off that indeed the frequency range that carries analogue that will be auctioned off is in fact of a far higher quality than the digital frequency & that great profits can be made by government.

I have 2 video recorders and used to be keen on setting timed video recordings for 2 progs simultaneously on different channels as well. this will not possible with digital I understand.

As a Brit living abroad, I've come to love this website. It's undoubtedly the best international news and general interest site on the planet.

Brits we are truly spoiled as far as media goes. It's not until you live overseas and see the rubbish that the poor foreigners have to put up with (that's with ads), that you really appreciate the Beeb and Channel 4 for that matter. I'm horrified to read some of the comments of some the whingers that have replied to this post. I'm sure they'll be the first to complain when the cutbacks come into effect.

Having said that, I think you're crazy not to be charging people and advertising to those who want it for free. Why should the rest of the world get it for free?

The government does have a point - not having to deal with the daily disciplines imposed by collection of advertising and subscription revenues puts you out of touch with the real world and the real value of a dollar. Its probably true to say that you do need to become more focussed on what your real customers want.

I'd happily pay a subscription for the right kind of service. You do lots of things well enough that you could get people to pay steady money. You just need to focus on the bits that people want the most. But you can only find out what those bits are by charging for what you do.

You may well argue that the site is a great marketing tool for Britain - and it probably is. But I bet that no one in the BBC has ever seriously tried to back that assertion with research and hard numbers. Had they done so, you might have a stronger case when negotiating with the government.

Also - look at America, their TV & Radio maybe horribly commercial, but their arts scene is rich and vibrant - funded to a large degree by charitable donations and season ticket type subscriptions. You should be looking seriously at that model.

Good luck.

  • 51.
  • At 02:09 AM on 19 Oct 2007,
  • Gilles wrote:

I've had the BBC as my homepage for 5 years now. First in Canada and now in the States. And when I'm driving, it's the BBC on the satellite radio. Beyond that, there are no other news sources worth reading or listening to. If it takes some adverts to make that happen, so be it. As with the CBC and NPR, it seems that the best way to discourage the only decent reporting left in the world is to underfund it. Take the franchise, take it global, partner with NPR and CBC and move away from government funding, become a truly global subscribed service, and take the censorship away from those that see news only as a political tool.

  • 52.
  • At 08:21 AM on 19 Oct 2007,
  • Ripped Off wrote:

With all due respect Mike, I have to agree with 'comment no 1'. It's an absolute scam that we are asked to fork out for a license fee at all, never mind the increased fee the beeb were after. Where else are populations taxed for the right to own a TV?

Let's face the facts. The BBC content is generally so bad that advertising for the bluechip clients they could attract would actually be an improvement on the drivel currently on offer.

  • 53.
  • At 08:35 AM on 19 Oct 2007,
  • John O'Donnell wrote:

For all the hype this changes nothing. The BBC will continue with its own peculiar brand of political correctness, It will continue to duck contentious issues in its news covereage, its share of the audience will continue to decline
and I will continue to wonder why I am forced to pay a license fee.

  • 54.
  • At 09:01 AM on 19 Oct 2007,
  • Peter, Fife wrote:

Defence of the current BBC set up falls into some categories (not exhaustive):
Resistance to change
Fear that managerial pyramids will be reduced.
Fear from managers of departments who are subjects of cuts that their positions in the BBC will become untenable.
Fear that the cuts will affect the numbers of seats on the gravy train.
Fear that the cuts will actually be an individual’s seat on the gravy train.
Fears that BBC employees associated celebrity life style will go.
Fear that they will have to compete in the big bad world not merely exist.

The BBC have got to realise that they are not the temple that British population once worshiped; the BBC has been exposed for deceiving the public, self interest, wasteful with public funds, worshiping at the altar of celebrity and defending the indefensible by merely closing ranks, ‘we do not see a problem’.

Why when a major story breaks in one of the regions, (region, noun, a place outside of London) does the BBC feel the need to ship a London reporter to the region to do the piece to camera; is it because London-centric managers at the BBC think that these strange people with strange accents will not be understood by London audiences?

One certainty is that the ‘managers’ who will make the decisions on where the axe will fall will ensure their own positions face no change or at worst only minimal cosmetic change to permit them to claim that the cuts are fair and even handed.

The BBC, modelled as it is on the Civil Service need only to look to that monster to witness the tide of change; resistance to change will result in those who finance the BBC to call for further change.

A clear warning is available to the NUJ, call strikes at your peril, the people are not with you, they will be less than enamoured with a reduction in service merely to preserve the status quo; strike will only cause more embarrassing questionable activities at the BBC to be aired publicly, the only result will be an ever downward spiral with further calls for cuts in staff, budgets and obviously the license fee.

  • 55.
  • At 09:35 AM on 19 Oct 2007,
  • Tim wrote:

Helen,

When a British court hears about how the BBC pays for a paintballing trip for suspect terrorist (sorry militants to you) For the BBC programme "Don't Panic, I'm Islamic"

Is there any wonder why the British public are seriously, seriously concerned about how their licence fee is being spent.

I am having trouble posting this comment on HYS. Although, I cannot see what rules it breaks. Must just be your biased censorship.

  • 56.
  • At 10:02 AM on 19 Oct 2007,
  • Nic Hawkins wrote:

On the radio yesterday, the reporter said that in part the cuts were necessary because of required investment in new delivery channels - podcasts, internet etc.

Digital is undoubtedly required as there won't be an option soon, internet demand will grow, but investment in delivery via mobile phone and downloadable podcasts? You can listen to the radio on most mobiles and MP3 players, so why download? Who reads the news on their phone while mobile? Wasted cash that could be spent on provision of live content.

Life is a succession of bandwagons and the BBC seems to have jumped on to a couple unnecessarily in a bid to be cutting edge, at the expense of what people really want.

To quote Ab Fab - I don't want more choice, I want nicer things! Quality of content is much more important than being able to get at it in a hundred different ways.

  • 57.
  • At 10:22 AM on 19 Oct 2007,
  • Jan McGeachie wrote:

You obviously were so busy yesterday with the "vision for the future" that you missed the news yesterday - oops sorry forgot it wasn't on the National - which was a disgrace considering it was a national triumph yesterday when after years of restoration and generating financial resources Vulcan XH558 had its first successful flight when it took to the skies from her home in Brantingthorpe.

Remind me again - why do we pay our licence fee?

  • 58.
  • At 10:42 AM on 19 Oct 2007,
  • Rob wrote:

What handwashing drivel from such a happy face. The BBC has totally lost its direction and values and is flailing about chasing trends, and missing. As usual the ones that suffer are the staff. Stick to what you do best (still, but only just) which is high-quality news coverage and exceptional programme-making. Drop most of your ambitious minority channels and get back to fundamentals. The new BBC charter sounds like no more than a licence to betray your principles, and your Board should be ashamed. The BBC is turning into the NHS, and we may well look back on this week as the defining watershed.

  • 59.
  • At 01:56 PM on 19 Oct 2007,
  • cosmicronson wrote:

Did I hear right? We are going fully multimedia with interactive software. Not if you have a mac or linux box. If the iPlayer fiasco is anything to go by I will soon be barred from the BBC by the expensive and unnecessary Microsoft DRM.

If you had not paid Microsoft to protect your site, perhaps you could afford more staff. In fact the single biggest factor to increased productivity is to eradicate Microsoft software and introduce a system with lower maintenance costs.

What is it you are protecting? Oh dear I might illegally copy Dr Who on my computer. Have you never heard of a video recorder.

I predict that Microsoft DRM will lead to even more cutbacks.

  • 60.
  • At 03:46 PM on 19 Oct 2007,
  • 4fs wrote:

Mike: What is it about the word TAX that you don't understand? Comment no. 1 was entirely correct.

Helen: How long will it take for the penny to drop amongst management that the BBC is increasingly regarded as very poor value? There's really no excuse that for the huge sums in taxes you receive every year, the corporation produces a few rare pearls in a sea of dross and mediocrity. What's happened to the basics? You have presenters that shouldn't be let near a microphone and programmes that resemble school productions. The 10 o'clock news has degenerated into something that's all sound, fury and repetition and the 6 o'clock news is plain embarrassing. Or do you have a target audience of chavs and dimwits? You have over-reached yourselves for years and as a result, discredited the BBC's reputation. We need fewer channels, better programs, better people and less navel-gazing. You are a wealthy organisation; please get on with it.

  • 61.
  • At 07:04 PM on 19 Oct 2007,
  • Kevin Webb wrote:

I, too, would be pleased to subscribe to full content. I have been a UK tax payer and TV licence holder in the past and value the content and quality of reporting on the site. However, I would point out that it costs you no more for content, just for supporting servers, so I hope we are not charged for more than that. I would say this is similar to the free BBC World TV broadcast we receive in New Zealand.
May your Government sponsors also remember that you have historically set up little British outposts all over the world. Just because you decided to stop buying all the things you told us to grow in favour of European goods now that you are no longer fighting with each other, doesn't mean we cease to exist. Learn from the USA: popular culture can be a life-imitates-art scenario. If you want the World to have more British qualities, then flood it with exposure to your culture, don't cut back! Building closer affiliations with other nations through this existing medium is a fantastic investment opportunity in future trade, tourism and diplomatic relations.

  • 62.
  • At 09:35 PM on 19 Oct 2007,
  • Dolores (Anjgers) wrote:

For the BBC it seems that 'bad news' after 'bad news' seems to be the only thing we are hearing about the health of the Beeb.

This rationalisation of the staffing levels is well overdue, however it is better now rather than later, the specific employees who this will impact are not it seems the most deserving of this pruning.

I feel that the middle management and upper management are the real cause of the mounting anger that the BBC seems to invoke when it promises educational, informative and quality programmes and then delivers unbalanced, predicatable and dull programming.

It seems that the management are convinced that what the license payer really wants is to to be fed unthreatening, unchallenging and unfunny middle of the road programmes, they seem afraid to present new ideas on topics as diverse as climate change, the Iraq war, comedy or religion, it seems that they feel that the British public is either a 'Guardianista or a Daily Hate reader, and therefore, tries to appease both sides by being neutral.

This is stifling the creative minds of many of it's producers and writers, they are trying to produce high quality programmes whilst being politcially neutral, this is why people feel that paying for the BBC is unfair and just a tax.

The mindset of the BBC needs to change, it is the middle and upper managements approach to today's Britain and how it wishes to portray this Britain that has lost it the respect of ordinary Britain.

Get rid of the old and feeble, keep the bright and dynamic and hopefully the BBC can start to recover it's postion as something more than a bloated out of touch auntie.

  • 63.
  • At 11:31 PM on 20 Oct 2007,
  • Ian wrote:

I'm sure BBC News could save a lot of money by ending its obsession with absolutely pointless live links to reporters standing outside government buildings where, very often, nothing is happening.

Also, surely a lot of money could be saved by having News 24 and the 1/6/10 bulletins from the same studio. If ITN managed it in the days of the ITN News Channel, why can't the BBC?

  • 64.
  • At 06:11 PM on 21 Oct 2007,
  • Jamie wrote:

Richard (33) makes an excellent point. The licence fee is like income fee which in no way can be called a tax as you're not compelled to have a job, value added fee (we don't shop at gunpoint) or the myriad of other fees our Government sponges off us.

The BBC needs to consider how the world of broadcasting will be in 2012 after the analogue signal is switched off.

Suddenly, every household will be receiving digital channels. The BBC currently has a lot of wastage in its programming because it has dedicated programming to News and Children on BBC1/2/3/4 but also has BBC News 24 and the CBBC and CBeebies channels.

I would propose that Newsnight, Panorama, QuestionTime etc are moved to become part of News 24's furniture with immediate effect BUT joint broadcast on BBC1 until the switchover is completed.

Similarly the CBBC on BBC1 should be a mirror of the CBBC channel from 3.30pm to 5.30pm each day until the switchover.

BBC4 should be renamed BBC Classic and its remit should be to show classics from the BBC Archives. Not the usual repeats of Only Fools and QI that digital cable and satellite channels bombard us with, but the stuff that's rarely shown. Stuff from the 1930s, 40s, 50s, and 60s. This would be an excellent way of re-using past programming and highlighting some of the BBC's previous gems. It would also be an excuse to digitise these programmes and slowly make them available online for free and for subscription.

BBC3 should slowly become a dedicated sports channel, BBC Sports. It can show all the live stuff (FA Cup, England games etc) and until the switchover these can also be carried on BBC1 and BBC2. When there's no live sport the BBC can show highlights of recent events, re-runs of MOTD/2 etcetera and classic sporting events from yesteryear.

Once the switchover comes this will mean that BBC1 especially will lose a lot of its schedule. Whilst BBC2 can continue withs its remit to broadcast edgier programmes as well as the best of BBC joint productions with corporations like HBO.

The BBC must try to save money by constantly giving young, fresh journalists a chance. Rather than paying big fees to a few "celebrity" presenters; by buying less imports - let Channel 5, ITV, and Virgin and Sky fight it out over US and Aussie imports.

BBC1 can showcase the best of the BBC, should try to show as few repeats as possible (leave syndication to UKTV Gold etc), and can try to concentrate on making top quality programmes as it has in the past.

  • 66.
  • At 10:09 PM on 23 Oct 2007,
  • Rob Davies wrote:

It actually won't be any great loss for the Beeb to shed a few journalists. I'm a news editor on a Welsh daily newspaper and I'm green with envy at the sheer volume of staff the BBC can deploy, with little apparent care for duplication or cost, to events we can barely afford to send a single reporter to. Here's how you send 6 BBC reporters to a bog standard news event in Wales: BBC Wales TV news in English - 1; BBC Wales TV news Welsh - 1; BBC Wales Radio News English - 1; BBC Wales Radio News Welsh - 1; BBC Wales Online English - 1; BBC Wales Online Welsh - 1. Plus all the entourage that go with them of course. Oh and they're all on £27k plus - far more than many print journalists.

  • 67.
  • At 01:03 AM on 24 Oct 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

I think the onset of BBC's rapid decline coincided with the change from the old familiar jingle that had served so well for decades. There was nothing wrong with it. That was a symptom of a new mentality of change for change sake. Kudos to you BBC management, it wasn't broke until you fixed it.

  • 68.
  • At 04:01 PM on 26 Oct 2007,
  • J.WESTERMAN wrote:

News by one newsreader: without a stage-setting, brass bands and drum-rolls.
News excluding the newsreader's gratuitous comments and opinions.
It really is hard to believe that we should have to be saying this sort of thing about the BBC.
Years overdue is a slimming down with journalists motivated to enhance the integrity of the BBC instead of indulging in self-publicity.

  • 69.
  • At 11:41 AM on 27 Oct 2007,
  • s.mann wrote:

Dear Helen Boden,
In one part of your article you state that impartiality is paramount.
Then publish the the BALEN report.

  • 70.
  • At 01:01 PM on 30 Oct 2007,
  • mr rowe wrote:

It has come to my attention that your news service is predicting the future or its being supplied with information from suspicous sources

on the 11th sept 2001 - it reported 23mins BEFORE the WTC 7 building had collapsed!

does the BBC have a magic crystal ball? can i speak to the information supplier so he can tell me the outcombe of the next Grand Nation race?!?!

sorry to joke but this issue is vastly beyond a joke and it shows the corruptness that has infiltrated our national newtork

please can this be investigated further and an iquiry into where the information came from, but only if accuracy is an issue for the BBC

regards

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