The BBC's new Director-General Mark Thompson arrived
for his first day at the helm today with a clear message to staff of
the need for real, radical change over the next few years.
Outlining a restructuring of the BBC's Executive Committee, Mr Thompson
also announced reviews into its commercial businesses, production and
commissioning, and how to increase efficiencies and control costs through
"We are going in to this with a genuinely open mind but these are
questions which are not going to go away. If we did not examine them
thoroughly ourselves, others would do it for us," he told 28,000 BBC
staff around the UK.
Mr Thompson paid tribute to his predecessors Greg Dyke and John Birt
as brilliant leaders in very different ways.
"They got the BBC successfully to this point. Now, with the guidance
of BBC Chairman Michael Grade and the rest of the Governors,
we have to find our own way of taking the BBC on to the next stage."
Mr Thompson said that since he left the BBC in early 2002 to become
Chief Executive of Channel 4, both the BBC and he had changed and he
was coming back with fresh eyes.
Internal changes led by Greg Dyke had done the BBC good but it now
needed to look at the outside world and address key concerns.
He outlined some of the themes that will emerge next week when the
BBC publishes its manifesto for the future and contribution to the debate
over renewal of its Royal Charter.
"Without great programmes, great content, we're nothing. Our task is
going to be to change the BBC more rapidly and radically over the next
three to five years than at any previous point in its history.
"We believe that over the next decade the BBC will have a bigger role
than ever in building public value, creating a far more open, responsive,
agile BBC and always putting our audiences first.
"The BBC is a kind of Noah's Ark in a digital world which otherwise
might have too little space for creativity and conviction," said Mr
One of his first moves will be to make the structure of the BBC simpler,
more effective and more able to adapt and change by creating three new
boards, covering the BBC's main activities (details
Mr Thompson will chair a cross media Creative Board made up of all
divisions that drive the BBC's creative work.
Alan Yentob, currently Director of Drama, Entertainment
and CBBC, will also become the BBC's Creative Director.
Deputy Director-General Mark Byford, in an enhanced
role, will now lead all the BBC's journalism.
He will chair a new Journalism Board, bringing all the BBC's journalism
at an international, UK, national, regional and local level together
for the first time.
The board will also implement all the recommendations of the independent
Neil Review, convened to identify lessons following Lord Hutton's Inquiry,
which will be published in full tomorrow (Wednesday).
Mr Thompson said the Governors had rightly rejected splitting the role
of DG and Editor-in-Chief post-Hutton.
"Nonetheless I recognise that the BBC's journalism will require more
continuous and concentrated editorial leadership at the top of the organisation
as we go forward.
"I have asked Mark Byford to make journalism the centrepiece of
his role as Deputy DG," said Mr Thompson.
Finance Director John Smith will chair the third board,
covering the BBC's commercial businesses, giving greater strategic clarity
and realising economic and creative potential.
He will also take on the new role of Chief Operating Officer (COO),
taking charge of all the BBC's commercial and resourcing subsidiaries,
as well as leading its Finance and Property departments.
A fourth major strand of work will be led by Caroline Thomson,
currently Director of Policy and Legal, who becomes Director of Charter
Renewal, reporting to both the Director-General and the BBC Chairman.
Mr Thompson said the creation of the three boards meant he could reduce
the BBC's Executive Committee from 16 people to a tighter Executive
Board of nine (details below).
"The new structure remains flat. But the new Executive Board will
be a real decision-making body with a strong sense of collective responsibility
and accountability. I believe it is going to take decisions more quickly
and will be more radical where necessary," he said.
Reviews will also be undertaken, reporting by the end of the year,
into three main areas - commercial activities, production and commissioning
and efficiencies and value for money.
John Smith will lead the review of all the BBC's commercial
businesses, involving external stakeholders, addressing the key questions
of what activities the BBC should undertake, whether it should do it
alone or with partners, and how they can build more value back to the
Carolyn Fairbairn, Director of Strategy & Distribution,
will head the Commissioning and Production Review.
This will ask the key question about how the BBC ensures the licence
fee has access to the best ideas and delivers real public value.
It will look at the balance of in-house and independent programme supply,
relations with commissioners and the advantages of having an in-house
Mr Thompson said he would also launch a BBC-wide programme looking
at increasing efficiencies, costs controls, value for money and self-help.
"The financial picture is tight. Every bit of licence fee has been
allocated to the end of the current Charter - and this year the BBC
is spending more than its income. That was planned but nonetheless it's
something to keep an eye on.
"As we are now in debt we need to keep a very careful control
on cash - we cannot risk exceeding our statutory borrowing limit."
He said self-help would be the starting point to meet financial burdens
like increased pension contributions and fresh calls on investment like
helping build a digital Britain.
He also said that Greg Dyke's strategy to find ways of moving significant
parts of the BBC's operations out of London and into the rest of the
UK was right.
Director of Sport Peter Salmon and Director of Nations
& Regions Pat Loughrey will continue to look at the
costs and creative implications before settling on a plan and will report
back in the autumn.
Notes to Editors
Previous Executive Committee