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24 September 2014
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Greg Dyke - "The BBC should be the most creative organisation in the world"

BBC Director-General Greg Dyke today laid out a new vision for the BBC - to be the most creative organisation in the world.

In an annual address to BBC staff across the UK, two years after becoming Director-General, Mr Dyke said this could be achieved by understanding audiences better and reaching people the BBC is currently underserving. It could also be achieved by changing attitudes and the way people worked within the BBC to unlock more creativity and ideas, he said.

Mr Dyke outlined the purpose of the BBC in the digital era by arguing that the BBC will have three distinct roles in the 21st century - local, national and international - and would become more, not less, important due to market changes.

He said efforts to save money and invest more in to programmes were having a tangible impact and the aim to reduce the amount of BBC income spent on overheads to 15% would be achieved next year, 12 months ahead of target.

"Having saved the money and changed the structures it’s time to concentrate on audiences, creativity and making this a really great place to work," he told thousands of staff listening around the country. Amongst the things those savings are paying for are the two new children’s channels - launching on February 11 - a new twice-weekly drama for Scotland and new interactive services.

Launching a major initiative to drive internal change, One BBC - Making it Happen, Mr Dyke said: "In the next couple of years we have an enormous opportunity to really change the BBC. The collapse in the advertising industry is having a profound effect.

"All of this gives us an opportunity, but it also puts a great responsibility on the BBC to deliver. Because we are publicly funded we have to up our game and produce even better programmes and services for all our audiences," said Mr Dyke, refuting claims of dumbing down.

Mr Dyke said the aim of the BBC in the 1990s was to be the best managed organisation in the public sector. "Let me offer you a new vision," he told staff. "We want to be the most creative organisation in the world. And I don’t just mean in the production and programme areas, I mean right across the BBC.

"The first task is to understand audiences better and reach those we’re not appealing to. We need to ensure we are not only meeting their hopes and expectations, but that we are exceeding them.

"The second task is to make sure that we’re the most innovative and risk taking place there is - and that will mean giving people the right to fail, encouraging new ideas in every part of the BBC and really changing some of the ways we work."

Outlining the BBC’s purpose in the digital era, he said: "The role of the BBC will be more important in a decade’s time, not less, because, as a result of market fragmentation, the commercial market will not be able to afford to provide some of the services it has historically produced. More will be required of the BBC, not less.

"I believe that the BBC will have three distinct roles in the 21st century. The first is an international role and, post September 11, the role of the BBC around the world becomes not less, but more, important."

He said that internationally, the BBC could bring credit back to Britain as the services were based on BBC values – independence, openness, fairness and a range of opinion – "which reflect Britain at its best".

"Our second role in 21st century Britain is a national role. The BBC is part of the glue which binds the United Kingdom together. This role of uniting the nation becomes more not less important in a fragmenting media world. Remember 35 million people in the UK turned to the BBC’s radio and television news services on September 11. It is also why it is so important that our services are universally available.

"Finally, I believe the BBC will have an increasingly important community role. In television, the ITV system was historically the regional system and the BBC the national system. That will gradually be reversed as the ITV system comes under greater financial pressure. In terms of regional television news viewing, we are now ahead virtually everywhere, something that was unthinkable even five years ago.

"In the past 18 months our local radio stations have shown their value when reporting the fuel crisis in the autumn of 2000, followed by the floods of that winter and then by the foot and mouth crisis last spring."

Mr Dyke said the BBC is currently investing heavily in a major project in Hull, to see what broadband Britain could look like, and in locally-based information web sites. "It is something we are able to do only because we are publicly funded. The market wouldn’t pay for this."

The Making it Happen teams will be led by acclaimed programme maker Susan Spindler, one of the creators of Walking with Dinosaurs and The Human Body.

Notes to Editors

Transcript of address to staff is available here.



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