Dyke attacks Birt BBC culture

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The Independent Online

The BBC is "massively over-managed" and "underled", Greg Dyke has told corporation staff, in a surprisingly savage indictment of Sir John Birt's regime. On Monday the new director general will unveil a massive change in the management structure of the BBC, designed to unravel some main aspects of Birtism.

Mr Dyke's plans are expected to turn Sir John Birt's management approach on its head. "We have too many systems and processes that drive us all nuts," he said. "We've made this a more complicated business than it is."

Mr Dyke was speaking to staff at a meeting in Bradford. He was, said one witness, "disarmingly frank" in making critical comments about Sir John's BBC. He said he wanted the corporation to be a "happier place" and for employees to feel that there is "management without fear".

The remarks are clearly critical of aspects of Sir John Birt's regime, which was said to be characterised by a "climate of fear" and too much management jargon and bureaucracy.

On Monday at 10am, 400 BBC managers will gather at Television Centre in west London to hear the results of Mr Dyke's review of the corporation. The rest of the staff will watch on the BBC's internal television system.

Mr Dyke, who has been at the BBC for less than six months, will unveil a new flatter structure for the organisation. There are expected to be five top jobs, reporting directly to Mr Dyke: director of television, director of radio, head of factual programming, head of entertainment and drama and head of new media.

Mark Thompson, 42, currently head of BBC regions, is expected to get the director of television post. Mr Thompson is likely to be seen as the second most important person in the BBC. The controllers of BBC1 and BBC2 will report directly to him.

The current head of BBC radio, Jenny Abramsky, is likely to become director of radio. She is expected to take control of Radio 5 Live, which she set up and which currently reports to the news and current affairs department.

The entertainment and drama role is also likely to include responsibility for children's programming and to go to the current director of television, Alan Yentob. There has been much hand-ringing at the top of the BBC to "find a role for Alan" to use his creative talents. Although the new job has been presented as a demotion, Mr Yentob's friends said yesterday that he is happy with the deal and likely to accept.

The other top jobs, head of new media and head of factual programming are, on the insistence of BBC governors, likely to be advertised externally. The new media job had been expected to go to the BBC's head of strategy, David Docherty. The factual role may well go to an outsider, possibly one of a number of directors of programmes from commercial channels who have experience in BBC factual programming.

At the next level down, there are expected to be about 16 departments, from marketing to human resources to finance.

The new structure will represent two main departures from Sir John's time. It putsprogramme-makers much closer to the director general, and it abolishes the controversial split between production, which made programmes, and broadcasting, which commissioned them. That split introduced additional bureaucracy and an extra layer of management.

The new director of human resources, Gareth Jones, will be expected to developing leadership skills of managers, underlining Mr Dyke's emphasis on leadership rather than management processes. Mr Jones told staff: "There are pockets where there is leadership in the BBC. You can feel it. With leadership you get energy, good teams, focus, excitement."

Not all executives were so enthusiastic. One said, sullenly: "We'll see. To some degree we've heard it all before."

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