Birt revolution begins to be dismantled at BBC counter-reformation

BBC news is to climb down from John Birt's policy of requiring all news staff to work both for radio and television, it emerged yesterday. A gradual U-turn will begin with a management reshuffle to be announced within weeks.

BBC news is to climb down from John Birt's policy of requiring all news staff to work both for radio and television, it emerged yesterday. A gradual U-turn will begin with a management reshuffle to be announced within weeks.

The BBC has spent millions implementing the bi-media policy, introduced five years ago. Staff say it has serious limitations. "It was obvious from the start that some people are better suited to radio and others to television; anyone could have seen that," said a news producer. Another said: "Full bi-media has never become a reality. For any big story we need to send one person for television, another for radio and a third for News 24. One person simply could not do everything."

A change of personnel at the top of BBC News is expected to result in the appointment of a separate Head of Television News and Head of Radio News. Under bi-media the two jobs were combined in the single post of Head of News Programmes, symbolising the bringing together of all television and radio output.

The reshuffle will start this month when Tony Hall, the chief executive of BBC News, announces a replacement for his deputy, Richard Ayre, who retires at the end of the year. The new deputy will be put in charge of an internal review of "production processes", which is widely expected to recommend the controversial reintroduction of the two posts. The process, being gradual, is designed to avert the publicity that would surround a sudden U-turn, news insiders said.

While a large number of reporters and correspondents will continue to work both for radio and television, the change in management structure will, it is hoped, correct some of the negative consequences of bi-media working and formally recognise its limitations.

The system, according to its critics, tends to favour television to the detriment of radio and has resulted in both television and radio producers being too busy to stay at the cutting edge of production skills.

The BBC admits that it is running television and radio production workshops to try to improve employees' craft skills.

Foreign correspondents such as John Simpson have described how bi-media working and the expansion of BBC news outlets have required them to file more than a hundred reports from the field during one day. However, the restructuring is not expected to have any impact on their workload.

Other BBC reporters say there is an increasing emphasis on "pretty faces" for television news, a policy which is fundamentally at odds with a bi-media approach. However, the overall increased flexibility of staff is recognised as a benefit, and will remain.

The new heads of television and radio news may eventually question the need for BBC News' three "executive editors", insiders added.

The creation of the executive editor post sparked a public furore two years ago, when presenters John Humphrys, James Naughtie and Anna Ford complained publicly that the new structure would lead to "homogenised" news output.

At the time, the BBC implemented a partial backdown, which would be complete if the current review process gets rid of the posts altogether. However, the move is not expected imminently.

* Bureaux are to be opened in Shanghai, Tehran and Seattle, Mr Hall said. It is part of a move to establish the BBC as "a major global news player".

The Shanghai announcement follows recent difficulties between the BBC and Peking over the way it reports news about China, while the Tehran bureau is being opened at a time of greater tolerance of Western influences.

"Shanghai and Seattle reflect the importance of those cities in terms of business stories," a BBC spokesman said, referring to Seattle's significance as a centre for the computing industry and the home of Microsoft. "And Tehran is politically important."

The new bureaux will help address recent criticism that the British media has cut back foreign coverage, and follows a declaration by the BBC that it is determined to seek quality rather than ratings in its output.

BBC news will, said Mr Hall, also soon be available on mobile telephones. "On the next generation of mobile phones you'll get most, if not all, of what you currently get on the Internet through a modem.

"I want our news to be wherever people want it . That is why, in the near future, we will be announcing a number of strategic partnerships with mobile-phone operators and technology providers throughout the world."

The developments were presented to a conference of international news broadcasters, as BBC News' strategy for "the third age of broadcasting", in which news on the Internet will be particularly important.

"We're finding that on those days when really big stories break," Mr Hall said, "more and more people are turning to our online site either as the first source of news or to get more up-to-date information.

"For day one of Kosovo last March we had 2.3 million page impressions. For our last major story, the Paddington rail crash, we had 3.7 million in a day - a record."

Sport
Thiago Silva pulls Arjen Robben back to concede a penalty
world cup 2014Brazil 0 Netherlands 3: More misery for hosts as Dutch take third place
Sport
Robin van Persie hands his third-place medal to a supporter
Van Persie gives bronze medal to eccentric fan moments after being handed it by Blatter
News
Ian Thorpe had Rio 2016 in his sights
people
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
scienceScientists have developed a material so dark you can't see it...
News
Monkey business: Serkis is the king of the non-human character performance
peopleFirst Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Arts and Entertainment
Blackman: Landscape of children’s literature does not reflect the cultural diversity of young people
booksMalorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Voices
Mrs Brown's Boy: D'Movie has been a huge commercial success
voicesWhen it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Arts and Entertainment
Curtain calls: Madani Younis
theatreMadani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Life and Style
Douglas McMaster says the food industry is ‘traumatised’
food + drinkSilo in Brighton will have just six staple dishes on the menu every day, including one meat option, one fish, one vegan, and one 'wild card'
Life and Style
Once a month, waistline watcher Suran steps into a 3D body scanner that maps his body shape and records measurements with pinpoint accuracy
techFrom heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Sport
Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony and Karim Benzema
transfersBony, Benzema and the other transfer targets
News
Soft power: Matthew Barzun
peopleThe US Ambassador to London, Matthew Barzun, holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence. He says it's all part of the job
Sport
Joe Root and James Anderson celebrate their record-beaking partnership
cricketEngland's last-wicket stand against India rewrites the history books
News
Gavin Maxwell in Sandaig with one of his pet otters
peopleWas the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?
News
Rowsell says: 'Wearing wigs is a way of looking normal. I pick a style and colour and stick to it because I don't want to keep wearing different styles'
peopleThe World Champion cyclist Joanna Rowsell on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

(Junior) IT Systems Administrator / Infrastructure Analyst

£28000 - £32000 per annum + pension, 25 days holiday: Ashdown Group: A highly ...

Sales Engineer - Cowes - £30K-£40K

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Sales Engineer - Cow...

Web / Digital Analyst - Google Analytics, Omniture

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client who are a leading publisher in...

Sales Perfomance Manager. Marylebone, London

£45-£57k OTE £75k : Charter Selection: Major London International Fashion and ...

Day In a Page

Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014 preview: Why Brazilians don't love their neighbours Argentina any more

Anyone but Argentina – why Brazilians don’t love their neighbours any more

The hosts will be supporting Germany in today's World Cup final, reports Alex Bellos
The Open 2014: Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?

The Open 2014

Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?