One BBC - Making It Happen
Centre, London, 7 February 2002
release outlining the key points of this address is available here.
all could I warn you that I am going to talk for quite a long time this
morning not quite Fidel Castro length but long enough for there
to be a danger of people getting bored so if I see people beginning
to leave I'll try to cut it short. It's long because what
I want to say today is important.
to talk about three things firstly how we did last year, secondly
what is the BBC's role in the digital age, and thirdly the progress
we've made in meeting some of the aims of One BBC and the challenge
we face now in taking the ideas further.
So let me start with the last twelve months. I would say that we had
a pretty good year in all areas of the BBC and I'd like to thank
everyone and I mean everyone for contributing to that.
well right across the board, in network television, where BBC TWO had
a particularly good year, in radio where last week's figures showed
record audiences for Radios 2, 4 and 5 Live; in news; in factual &
learning; in drama, entertainment & children's; in new media
where the launch of BBCi and interactive television has gone brilliantly,
in the nations and regions; in BBC Local Radio; in sport; and in our
businesses also performed well. Worldwide made record sales; BBC Technology
got off to a good start; we've just got the green light for BBC
Broadcast and BBC Resources made a cash contribution to the BBC for
the first time. Next year we hope it will make its first ever profit.
I'm very optimistic about the future of Resources after some difficult
not forget the professional services like finance, strategy, public
policy, and HR. Support services are not necessarily the most glamorous
parts of a broadcasting or programme-making organisation but they do
matter and creativity is as important in those areas as in the obvious
areas like production.
I do want
to refer to our performance in two areas in particular.
Service has sometimes in the past been perceived as the poor relation
in the BBC, in fact I am told there have been times when it saw itself
as that. Never again. In the weeks after September 11th the World Service
and our international television news service BBC World have come into
of us before September 11th were aware that the BBC's Pashtu Service
was the most important broadcaster in a Taliban-run Afghanistan? But
everyone knows now and in Afghanistan everyone knew which is why the
World Service was the only broadcaster allowed into the swearing-in
ceremony of the new Government.
has had a similar success and I've had many letters and press cuttings
from the United States praising World's coverage in contrast to
the rather jingoistic coverage of the American networks.
who has contributed to our coverage of events since September 11th right
across the BBC should feel proud of what they have achieved. Covering
the war in Afghanistan was not easy and according to the people who
went there it was pretty scary at times. But they performed brilliantly
and our coverage has been outstanding across all media.
area I want to refer to is BBC ONE.
BBC ONE had a higher share of the audience than ITV for the first time
ever. We didn't even achieve that in 1989 when the ITV system was
closed down for several weeks because of a strike!
shouldn't get too excited about this we only won by 0.1%
and our victory was partly because ITV lost 7% of its audience in a
single year. Remember, this stuff is cyclical, but it was a turning
point and in the first month of this year we've carried on in the
same vein. Last January BBC ONE was behind ITV by 3.6 share points.
This year we were ahead by 0.9 share points, assuming of course that
we believe the new BARB measurement system.
years BBC ONE has had a rough time largely because it was under-funded.
Two years ago I said restoring the strength of BBC ONE was one of my
first and main priorities. We put in a lot of extra money, both to the
channel directly and via the sports budget, and it is beginning to work.
the response in some quarters to us winning was inevitable. According
to some journalists and politicians this was just further evidence that
the BBC was dumbing down. How else, they asked, could we have won? It
had to be dumbing down.
a funny job this. A year ago we were being criticised for losing on
BBC ONE. Now we are being criticised for winning.
I just don't buy the dumbing down argument. BBC ONE's schedule
is changing as it should but sometimes I feel the dumbing
down debate is a bit like that scene in the Life of Brian when John
Cleese asks, "What have the Romans ever done for us?", and
the answer was the plumbing, the roads, the legal system etc. etc.
the scene. What did BBC ONE ever do for us last year?
was Blue Planet, described by some as the best natural history series
all right I'll give you Blue Planet. But apart from that what did
BBC ONE do for us last year?
you see The Way We Live Now? David Suchet was brilliant.
I'll give you that but apart from Blue Planet and The Way We Live
Now what did BBC ONE do for us last year?
EastEnders, Messiah, The Lost World, Clocking Off, My Family, Linda
Green, Walking with Beasts, Child of Our Time, Welcome to Britain, Panorama,
Son of God, I Was a Rat, Comic Relief, Children in Need, The One o'clock
News, the Six o'clock News, the Ten o'clock News and of course
Germany 1 England 5. Although the latter wasn't quite so popular
in Scotland I discovered!
give you all that lot but apart from them what did BBC ONE do for us
last year? Wasn't it all just dumbing down?
I think BBC ONE had some great programmes last year. Programmes we should
all be proud of and fight the case that BBC ONE isn't dumbing down.
than dumbing down BBC ONE is getting better and will get better still
not all the programmes on BBC ONE, or BBC TWO for that matter, were
outstanding and we can still do better. For instance last year BBC ONE
still lost share amongst young adults, a problem I'll talk about
later. But a lot of the programmes on BBC ONE and BBC TWO were fantastic
and our audiences recognised that both in terms of ratings and in our
all know that getting ratings isn't our only aim at the BBC. We
have a greater purpose than that. But equally we shouldn't be embarrassed
when we do make good programmes that people watch in large numbers;
we should all be proud of them.
second section of this speech I want to answer a question I am regularly
asked, which is what is the purpose of the BBC in the digital age? The
argument against us goes like this - in a world of massive choice why
do we need the BBC? Why do we need a publicly funded, public service
broadcaster at all? Surely the market will provide all that viewers,
listeners and on-line users need or want?
beg to differ. In fact, I believe 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.
is an international role and post September 11th the role of the BBC
around the world becomes not less, but more, important.
who, as you know, runs the World Service and is soon to take responsibility
for BBC World and our international online news services as well, ends
his mission statement for the World Service by saying one of its aims
is to produce services which "bring credit to Britain".
right that must be one of the aims of our international services because
they are based on a set of BBC values independence, openness,
fairness and a range of opinion which do reflect our country
at its best.
and, of course, principal role in 21st century Britain is a national
role. The BBC is part of the glue which binds the United Kingdom together.
At times of national joy or sadness, at profound moments in the UK or
around the world, at times when the nation wants to celebrate, mourn
or just enjoy itself people turn to the BBC. Be it to celebrate the
millennium or a major sporting event, to mark the death of Princess
Diana or even to enjoy the playing of a much loved programme like Only
Fools and Horses - people turn in their millions to the BBC.
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 11th. It is also why
it is so important that our services are universally available.
I believe the BBC will have an increasingly important community role
in the years ahead. 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 ratings, we are now winning virtually
everywhere, something that was unthinkable even five years ago.
the past 18 months our local radio stations speech based stations
not aimed solely at the young like most of commercial local radio
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.
the latter I got a letter from a woman in Cumbria which just said "thank
you for Radio Cumbria in an increasingly mad world it is our
currently investing heavily in locally-based information web sites,
something we are able to do only because we are publicly funded. The
market wouldn't pay for this.
comes the broadband world. We're investing in an experiment in
Hull, arguably Britain's first broadband city, where we're
trying to work out what the future will look like. We're trying
a lot of different things but one thing I am certain of already is that
the market alone won't deliver all the services broadband could
bring to improve life in a community.
most of what the BBC does today and will do over the next decade or
so can be fitted into one of these three roles international,
national and community.
on to my third subject, what about One BBC? Has it worked? Well some
of it has and some hasn't yet.
launched it we talked a lot about saving money so we could spend more
on programmes and services.
In 1999 24% of our total income was being spent on overheads on actually
running the BBC. In "One BBC" we set ourselves the target
of reducing this to 15% by 2004. Well it now looks as if the figure
for the current financial year, the year that ends on March 31st, will
be below 17% and that we will hit 15% next year a year early.
the licence fee increase that's how we've increased BBC ONE's
budget; that's how we'll pay for our new digital radio and
television services; that's how we've managed to pay for extra
sports rights, that's how we've managed to increase spending
in the nations and regions, that's how we've paid for interactive
television, that's how we've reversed the cuts in local radio
and increased the speed of re-equipping the stations and that's
how we'll pay to create the digital curriculum.
So in terms
of money we've saved a lot and we are spending the savings on our
programmes and our services. In this year alone we've increased
spending by £150 million. Real savings are having a real impact.
That wasn't achieved without a lot of pain and hard work.
aim of "One BBC" was simplifying the internal market system
to take out the crazy bits; I've no doubt there are still some
left, but my impression is that we've done that pretty successfully.
I certainly don't get the number of complaints about it that I
did two years ago.
"One BBC" set about dismantling the broadcasting/ production
split in certain areas and improving it others. We did it virtually
overnight in areas like Children's, Sport, specialist factual programming
and parts of radio and this process is still ongoing.
areas where we retained the split but improved the commissioning system,
like drama, the results have been highly successful. In fact the renewed
success of BBC ONE owes a lot to what has been produced by BBC Drama.
in other areas, like general factual, the current system is still not
working as well as we'd like and when Jana Bennett arrives as the
new Director of Television we'll have another look at it.
were other, equally important, aims of "One BBC" which I'd
like to talk about for the rest of my time this morning. In the introduction
to the original "One BBC" document I wrote that our aim was
"to put audiences, creativity and programme making at the heart
of the BBC."
on to say I believed we could achieve this if we could turn the BBC
into a place "where people work collaboratively, enjoy their job
and are inspired and united behind the common purpose of creating great
television and radio programmes and outstanding online services."
think we're there yet, judging by the feedback from our audiences
and staff. So 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.
next couple of years we have an enormous opportunity, possibly a once
in a lifetime opportunity to really change the BBC.
recognise that the collapse in the advertising market is having a profound
effect on ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 as well as many of the commercial
radio groups. Morale in those organisations has inevitably been dented
by the difficulties they are going through. The same applies in the
online world with the collapse of the dot coms.
this gives us an opportunity but it also puts a greater responsibility
on the BBC to deliver. Because we are publicly funded, and we haven't
been hit by the downturn in advertising, we have to up our game and
produce even better programmes and services for all our audiences.
stopping us? Well surveys show that while the BBC is widely respected
by the public there are also some significant negatives. We are seen
by many as safe, arrogant and out of touch. Staff surveys inside the
BBC produce similar results. The latest shows that while people inside
the organisation feel better informed than before they believe we're
not risk taking, innovative or creative enough. And they don't
think there's as much openness, honesty and collaboration as there
three things that audience research tells us that particularly concern
· With a few obvious exceptions like Radio 1, we underserve the
young - and by that I mean people under-55; and the younger people get,
the more marginal the BBC is in their lives.
· Ethnic minorities in the United Kingdom disproportionately
don't use our services and don't think we're for them.
· Many of our services are still seen as skewed towards the South
of England, which they are.
to address these concerns urgently: Our purpose is public service broadcasting
and that means we must have something to offer all our audiences.
everyone pays for the BBC, everyone should get something back.
shouldn't get depressed by all this. We should just decide that
we are going to change it. And by we I don't mean the senior management
- I mean all of us.
change it by changing the BBC. We can all play a part in turning the
BBC into a "can do" organisation where we all try to help
to get things done rather than tell people why they can't be done.
We can make the BBC an exciting and vibrant place where everybody wants
nineties, believe it or not, one of the stated aims of the BBC was "to
be the best-managed organisation in the public sector". I have
to admit that wouldn't have got me out of bed in the morning. So
let's forget that and agree that our aim today is very different.
me offer you a new vision. We want the BBC 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, everywhere and that includes
the commercial parts of the organisation. 20 per cent of our staff now
work in these areas and they are as important to the BBC as any other.
We are, after all, One BBC.
do we make that happen? How do we become the most creative organisation
in the world? That's a question that the all of us on the Executive
Committee have been asking ourselves - and I now want to share our thinking
with you and, more important, enlist your help.
task is to understand audiences better and reach those we're not
appealing to. We need to ensure that we are not only meeting their hopes
and expectations but that we're exceeding them. It also means we
need to communicate better with them, which is one of the reasons why
we've put a new emphasis on focused marketing and communications.
We need to get our messages through and to shift what people think of
task, which arguably is inseparable from the first, 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're launching a big idea right across the BBC and we're
calling it ONE BBC - MAKING IT HAPPEN. Before your hearts sink at the
thought of yet another stream of paper and boxes to tick, let me tell
you what this isn't. It's not a management consultant style
set of navel-gazing task forces, that produce reams of paper and not
a lot else. Neither is it a collection point for complaints and whinges.
It's not another piece of bureaucracy.
of the Executive team is committed to Making it Happen and every one
of us will be involved personally.
identified seven areas where we think change will make a difference
and we're asking experienced people from different parts of the
BBC to lead a BBC-wide programme of change based around these seven
ideas. They are:
Leader: Helen Boaden (Controller Radio 4)
· creativity is the lifeblood of the BBC
· we want new and big ideas from all parts of the BBC -
HR and finance are as important as programmes
· encourage risk-taking
with all audiences
Leader: Jane Root (Controller BBC TWO)
· problems with some audiences - young (under 55),
ethnic groups, too South East
· who are they? what do they want? how do we provide that - and
· Radio 1's sending a team to Bradford to find out why listening
· Not patronising. Not talking down. It's about connecting.
are the main ones. The other five are the things we've got to do
to help achieve them.
Leader: Jerry Timmins (Head of Americas, World Service)
· The BBC's greatest asset is you, the people who work here,
but you don't always believe it
· Good example - the Gillard Awards
· Help people develop and advance
· say thank you and well done
· Help each other achieve success
Leader: Roger Mosey (Head of Television News)
· People talk about "them." - their fault
· There is no "them". It's us.
· Example - Politics Conference. The decision makers were there!
· We, all of us, should be the best ambassadors for the BBC
Leader: Sara Geater (Director of Rights and Business Affairs)
· Too much paper. Too many meetings. Too much "can't
· Executive team's decision to scrap pointless meetings.
· Ask, "was that worth having?" If not, kill it.
· turn the BBC into a "can do" organisation.
· Be bold, but use your common sense. Don't break the law,
don't bankrupt the BBC or take health and safety risks.
Leader: Andy Griffee (Controller, English Regions)
· Leadership is key
· Management isn't about control it's about
· The Executive team will spend more time getting out there,
· Be human beings, enjoy yourselves, get out and about,
talk to your people
Leader: Shar Nebhrajani ( Head of Finance, New Media)
· People work better in exciting and creative environments
· Decent conditions mean people feel cared for
· Boring buildings, colours, carpets, dull pictures, no fun
· John Smith and his team asked people to come up with ideas
for making their
space better. He got 1,200 ideas from 3,000 replies
are the seven teams and the seven leaders. In the next few months these
teams will talk to as many people as possible and come up with great
proposals for change and then, make them happen. And we are looking
for quick wins, so that people can see things changing immediately,
as well as longer term ideas.
want every part of the BBC to carry out their own work on Making it
Happen. Each division will have its own team made up of a wide range
of people so that everyone - from all parts of the division - will have
a chance to contribute. And I would also ask that people in every team
in the BBC be it at Watchdog, Radio Leicester or outside broadcasts
discuss how we make this place better, how we make it exciting,
how do we ensure that the cynics and moaners in the organisation
and they're there in all big organisations are marginalized.
In short how do we cut the crap and make it happen?
me I've had a yellow card printed which says on it "cut the
crap and make it happen" which I plan to bring out at every meeting
when someone is trying to stop a good idea rather than make it happen.
We'll send one to anyone who wants one.
asked Susan Spindler, one of the creators of Walking with Dinosaurs,
Animal Hospital and The Human Body, to be the project director of One
BBC - Making it Happen. She will lead a small team which will provide
support, information, act as a collection point for ideas, suggestions
and solutions. They'll let everyone know what's happening
so that we can learn from one another, discuss problems and come up
with joint solutions. It's important to understand they're
catalysts, not a bunch of bureaucrats.
said all that, I'm a practical sort of person and a bit impatient
too and I get nervous when I can't offer concrete examples of what
I mean. So we asked one of our young film makers Nicky Pattison to find
out about some of the groundbreaking things that are already happening
across the BBC. She discovered some great things.
Open Centre, Hull Broadband trial, Radio X, Scottish Soap, CBBC launches,
White City Atrium opening)
still don't understand... Is why DID everyone have to wear those
hard builders' hats if we only needed a door and a ramp?
two things in that film we've just seen that would not be happening
if we hadn't taken money out of overheads and put it in to programmes
- the new Scottish soap and the two new children's channels launching
on Monday. So that part of One BBC is working.
is the most important thing I'm going to say today.
my project or the Executive's project, or even Susan Spindler's
project, In fact it's wrong to even call it a project. It's
much more important than that. It belongs to all of us who want to change
this place for the better and without your ideas it simply won't
like to set every one of you who is watching today a challenge. Ask
yourself "is there one thing I can do to make a difference?"
Don't just think it, do it!
If we all
do that we can start to change this place right now.
give everyone an assurance. If you decide to get something done in the
interests of Making it Happen, in the real interest of improving the
BBC for the people who work here and for the audiences out there, I'll
back you - even if it goes wrong. We have to learn to accept that if
we want more risk taking, people will try lots of things and some won't
it then, that's the speech. Not quite Fidel length but not bad.
Just remember between all of us we can really make this place buzz and
if we do that we'll make great programmes and deliver great services.