New DG George Entwistle puts programme makers first


George Entwistle: "The BBC must stand at the heart of creative endeavour"

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The BBC's new director general George Entwistle has said he will put programme makers and "outstanding creative originality" at the heart of the organisation.

In his first speech to staff since starting in the post on Monday, he said he felt "privileged" to lead the broadcaster.

But Mr Entwistle acknowledged criticism of the BBC and said "we can do better".

He revealed plans to change management as part of a "radical simplification".

Mr Entwistle announced that chief operating officer Caroline Thomson, who was a rival for the top job, would leave the BBC at the end of September.

The finance and operations divisions will then be merged into one business division.

"I intend to change the way we're led to put the emphasis where it belongs - on creative people doing creative things; on our audiences and the exceptional quality of work they deserve," he told staff.

Mr Entwistle said his focus on creativity could not be isolated from the BBC's financial challenges, with cuts of 16% already planned as part of the Delivering Quality First initiative.

George Entwistle wrote his first letter of complaint to the BBC at the age of 6 - when Tom and Jerry was replaced by the Budget.

Now he is tackling some of the BBC's more entrenched problems, such as too much bureaucracy and too few women presenters. He's slimming the management structure - closing the operations division and halving the size of the management board.

Creative people will be given more charge of their own destiny. If they save money, they will be allowed to keep some of it for their own programmes.

And within two years, there'll be further integration of radio, television and digital media, inspired by the success of the Olympics coverage which had seen the BBC working more closely together.

He told the Radio Times he'd also like to see more women's sport on the BBC - and more women presenters and experts.

He said he intended to involve front-line programme makers and content producers in making those savings, with the incentive that they would be able to put the money back into their output.

Mr Entwistle paid tribute to the BBC's Olympic coverage and said staff should aspire to recreate that atmosphere with other projects.

"Only the BBC can do things with the ambition, scale and quality that bring the whole nation together," he said.

Mr Entwistle also acknowledged problems within the structure of the BBC, including "internal competition, the duplication, the jockeying for position".

He continued: "And at its worst, the leaking, the briefing against other people and other departments - and the sheer waste of energy and money that results."

He told staff he hoped to lead the BBC in a way that "re-invokes the pride I believe we all felt on our first day".

Licence settlement

The next licence fee settlement will be a key issue for Mr Entwistle, with negotiations on the future cost of a TV licence due to start in 2015-16.

Appearing on the Andrew Marr show on Sunday, outgoing director general Mark Thompson said he believed the corporation should not face further budget cuts, as it was "getting very, very close to the edge".

However, looking ahead, Mr Entwistle said only one thing could guarantee the corporation's survival: "Creative output of such outstanding quality that the British licence fee payer simply refuses to do without the BBC."

He continued that the organisation could not argue for a renewed licence fee in 2017 unless output was of the "highest quality and our audiences love us for it".

Mr Entwistle, who was previously director of the BBC's Vision department, has worked at the corporation for almost 23 years.

In his first interview, with this week's Radio Times, he revealed his passion for the BBC had started early.

As an outraged six-year-old, he wrote a handwritten letter to the "Derector of the BBC" after Tom and Jerry was bumped off the schedule because coverage of the 1969 budget overran.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 258.

    @156 Lee - I agree absolutely!

    @169 Bill - The costs of advertising are not just paid for through SKY, Virgin, BT etc. All products that are advertised on commercial TV have costs inbuilt into the price at the till - so you're paying anyway, even if you don't watch commercial TV - which I don't, so I object to paying for assinine adverts and those TV stations indirectly.

  • rate this

    Comment number 257.

    Power to the elbow of the BBC and the new DG.

    Please don't allow the commercial interests of others to attack the licence fee further or force more reductions in the quality or quantity of programs.
    We rely on the BBC to provide top quality programmes aswell as good factual non biased news and consumer information.

    Thank You BBC

  • rate this

    Comment number 256.

    The BBC does need to move away from it's lovies and political buddies, they are legion from Marcus Brigstock/Punt and the bloke who does the awful leftie songs on the Now Show through Diane "extra payment" Abbot to the minority rent-a-quotes such as Chakraibarti. Very unfair they slosh licence fee cash to this lots to further the BBC agenda in an endless cycle.

  • rate this

    Comment number 255.

    The BBC is in a unique position to insist on 'good' rather than 'popular'

    Like a religion?

    I prefer the BBC to do it's own job well
    Non-biased local, national and international News

    Doing the job of the lifestyle temperance movement and the Ministry of politically correct propaganda is not the BBCs role

    The BBC needs to reflect everyone instead of a middle class patrician clique

  • rate this

    Comment number 254.

    108.Get Real
    "I look forward to seeing programmes about the most pressing problem facing humanity:
    Over Population."

    I don't think that there are enough people out there interested enough to warrant making the programme. . .

  • rate this

    Comment number 253.

    re 131 Couldnt agree more! Radio 2 is certainly not aimed at 30yr olds! Having listened to Chris Moyles for the past 8yrs I'm now told I'm too old for Radio 1 and should be listening to Radio 2. So this morning I tried it. I fail to see how playing songs from Cliff Richard and the Beatles targets the 30s age group. So the BBC is happy to take my enforced licence fee and offer me little in return!

  • rate this

    Comment number 252.

    Just because something is popular - doesn't make it good; millions of people smoke, that doesn't make it right.

    The BBC is in a unique position to insist on 'good' rather than 'popular'.

    Of course many programmes and services are both. From Dr Who to The Proms, Horrible Histories to QI. Plus the world's best website.

  • rate this

    Comment number 251.

    Does the BBC really need 5 major TV channels and 5 main radio programmes. Time for some pruning of both output and the licence fee.

  • rate this

    Comment number 250.

    I think the licence fee payers should be asked where their payment into BBC's coffers should be directed. Obviously not the millions of us, but a good cross section. I say this because I don't believe we have any input into something we cannot opt out of, unless we have no tv, & I believe an ECHR challenge will be mounted to this, unless there is some accountability and action taken on our wishes.

  • rate this

    Comment number 249.

    The BBC comments are always filled with "stop making shows I don't like" & "stop chasing ratings". They don't seem to realise shows like Strictly & Dr Who help make shows that may not appeal to everyone.

    Not to mention the Coalition looking over the BBCs shoulder. If ratings went down or a survey said people opposed the TV license, the Coalition would have a "solution" before you can say GCSE!

  • rate this

    Comment number 248.

    I prefer BBC it's without Ads. but it has become tedious . Daytime TV needs revamping. I want more informative programmes not antiques, and cooking. I enjoyed the Olympics but cant stand football and the expert analysis. I would not miss it. More amusing Miranda and non offensive comedy would be great. I dont mind a repeated programmes I recommend Black Adder, Yes Minister etc. every 5-10 yrs.

  • rate this

    Comment number 247.

    I do not have a TV and do not, via PC or mobile device, watch any live-to-air transmissions. As such I do not need a TV license.

    Radio provides us with great shows, live news & sports and the web provides up to the second news and the ability to watch one of the rare programmes worth watching via the broadcaster catch-up services.

    Better programmes may encourage me back to TV license land.

  • rate this

    Comment number 246.

    Oh dear.
    'Outstanding creative originality' sounds very much like a tautology. But not to worry. He's only the boss.

  • rate this

    Comment number 245.

    I ask only thing of the new Head Honcho. As fast as humanly possible, return this once great organisation back into an "Impartial" reporting agency the politicising of the BBC has done it enormous damage.

    Everything politicians touch... turns to dust

    car manufacturing

    Currently being trashed by politicians:

    The railways
    The NHS
    The BBC

  • rate this

    Comment number 244.

    Any mention of the Salford move bringing huge savings? From the snippet on offer it still seems the BBC will decide what's good for us - rather thought there would be more emphasis on viewer feedback and participation in BBC broadcasting.

  • rate this

    Comment number 243.

    "The BBC is worth every penny"

    Especialy when accesing it over the internet, free.

  • rate this

    Comment number 242.

    1st thing he could do, is to explain to whoever designed the comments system on this site, that comments begin with "oldest first", that way one reads a comment before one reads the replies that it received..And that historically, in the English language, one reads pages (and thus "comments") from top to bottom,one does not have to "scroll up" comments sections..That is basic web-page design 101..

  • rate this

    Comment number 241.

    I can't even pick BBC TV up yet I still have to pay the licence tax, how fair is that?
    High time they came clean, acknowledged it for the tax it is and just incorporated it into income tax

  • rate this

    Comment number 240.

    Nowadays there`s a blurring between broadcast TV and internet videos.There`s also plenty of underused`s inevitable that sooner or later,cheap,online productions will be used to develop new talent and drive up the standard of flagship channels as well as provide some niche programs.BBC-Use the technology!

  • rate this

    Comment number 239.

    Personally I'd like to see the BBC making more top quality programs, the few we get are great, but in order to keep the License Fee down it would be good if the BBC had a larger number of programs being distributed through its worldwide service (its commercial arm). This would also mean better TV for us in the UK.


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