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Delivering Quality First - a more effective and simpler BBC

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Caroline Thomson Caroline Thomson | 10:02 UK time, Friday, 8 April 2011

Delivering Quality First staff event in Pacific Quay

Yesterday I was in Glasgow giving a progress report to BBC staff about Delivering Quality First (DQF) - our initiative to reshape the BBC for the future. The BBC's mission remains the same - to inform, educate and entertain through programmes and services of high quality, originality and value. We are delivering that mission; 97% of the British public tune in to the BBC every week. That is an incredible privilege that brings with it great responsibility.

Our challenge is how to continue to fulfill our mission between now and 2016 whilst making 20 per cent savings. This is about finding better ways of working which will prepare us for a connected future. Linked to this we need to ensure that the BBC is creating programmes about the whole of Britain - serving our audiences throughout the UK.

Local and national broadcasting is at the heart of what we do. And as we move towards 2016 more of what we do will be done outside of London. Salford is just about to open for business - we are 6 weeks away. Sport, Radio 5 live, Children's are all coming together in one location. This is the model for the BBC of the future, and where many of the ideas from DQF will be piloted.

Pacific Quay is one of the most modern, state of the art, digital broadcasting facilities in the world and has helped BBC Scotland to already achieve a 30 per cent efficiency saving. We will be putting forward the really big decisions to the BBC Trust in July. They will then conduct a public consultation before any final decisions are made.

However in the meantime as we have talked with BBC staff there are some really useful ideas that they have come up to make us a more effective organisation, and which we can address right now. Some of the concerns that staff have raised include a frustration with outdated broadcasting equipment which can become a barrier to their ability to do their job well. There is also a feeling that there are too many layers of management and there is too much complexity in decision making.

We've listened to these concerns and are taking action to create a more effective and simpler BBC with clearer accountability:

  • To tackle the complexity that so often frustrates people working in and around the BBC and create simpler decision making - we will move to a maximum of 7 organisation layers. That means a maximum of seven layers including the DG and the most junior staff.
  • We will establish a technology fund to respond to staff concerns. We have already found an extra £1M specifically for technology upgrades in English Regions TV, and for BBC Radio Northampton which faced a particular problem.
  • Thirdly we are currently spread over 400 different properties. We want as much investment in future to be in programmes rather than buildings and so we are aiming to reduce the property space we occupy by 30 per cent by 2015.
  • Finally - there has been some speculation that we are considering reducing the redundancy terms for BBC staff. There are no immediate plans to change redundancy terms. Clearly we cannot rule it out, but today I have given a pledge that if we do decide to change them in the future, we will give staff eighteen months notice.

These common sense decisions are about getting the basics right before we embark on the bigger transformation ahead.

Caroline Thomson is the BBC's Chief Operating Officer


  • Comment number 1.

    So is it true that TV Centre in Wood Lane will become an extension of the Westfield shopping centre?

  • Comment number 2.

    ....mind you, nobody would miss East Tower.

  • Comment number 3.

    Hi Kit! I was told by some BBC insiders that TVC is to become a cultural centre dedicated to the media and the arts! I don't know if this is correct but I hope an official BBC source can tell us more about this please?!

  • Comment number 4.

    So Peel Media (do not be fooled by the name, they are a property company through and through) are bidding to take control of Pinewood Studios group.

    Am I seeing too much when the owners of Salford's Media City acquire large real estate in the south east. Pinewood will remain primarily as it is within recent planning decisions. I expect either Teddington or Shepperton studios will be closed and redeveloped as non media sites. The other will be redeveloped as London Media City. The BBC will consolidate existing functions into these new premises. Peel will then (again as they are a property company) be partner in the redevelopment of the valuable White City / Shepherds Bush properties as the BBC waves goodbye.

    Suppliers and contractors based in W12 and W14 will be rather peeved.

    That is my prediction for the moment. Let's see what happens over the next five years.

  • Comment number 5.

    Whatever happens, please would it be possible to have some update if the BBC Tours pages on Ceefax page 695 with news of the new Pacific Quay and MediaCity UK tours? At the moment these BBC Information pages tend toward London-centricism.

  • Comment number 6.

    Given that the author (a very senior BBC Executive) said "We will be putting forward the really big decisions to the BBC Trust in July.They will then conduct a public consultation before any final decisions are made" I would like to know why the Formula 1 rights deal was announced prior to the consultation. The proposed reduction in sports rights spend is clearly part of 'Delivering Quality First' and subject to consultation, and the F1 deal is only happening in order to reduce sports-rights spend. Saying anything else is simply not credible. Indeed F1 rights sharing is even mentioned in the BBC Trust's document as an example of reducing spend and it even states how the F1 rights deal will allow other services to be maintained! It is an absolutely central part of the proposals.

    The BBC Executive must provide an explanation as to why viewers were denied a say on a key part of the proposals - contrary to previous public statements. Saying we did the deal 'because we could' and that 'individual Sports rights decisions are not a matter for the BBC Trust' simply wont do and show enormous disrespect for the public's intelligence.

    Failure to explain would give a very strong impression that the BBC deliberately denied viewers a say on a key plank of the proposals.

    It is reasonable to assume that had the F1 deal been announced at the same time as all the other DQF proposals, a large proportion of the 6000+ viewers that complained would've had their say in the consultation instead. The BBC Trust may then have concluded that viewers value the BBC's sports portfolio more than other areas and asked the executive to recast their proposals.

    I and others would like an explanation and redress. Redress could take the form of renegotiating the deal and a public apology - A public apology for failing to uphold the high standards of public business that the BBC holds other too. Just imagine the amount of BBC News coverage had the Govt. implemented part of a policy that was still subject to public consultation.

    Failure to explain and provide redress would almost certainly make this a matter for the regulatory authorities.


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