Dyke unveils his vision of 'inspired' One BBC

Nine programme chiefs join the administrators at the top of new management structure as the Birt regime is dismantled
Click to follow
The Independent Online

A change of culture at the BBC was essential, Greg Dyke, director general, said yesterday as he laid out his plans for the future of the corporation. He returned to his theme of attacking the regime and the internal competition fostered by his predecessor, Lord Birt.

Addressing staff at the Television Centre, Shepherd's Bush, west London, he said: "Our aim is to create one BBC, where people enjoy their job and are inspired and united behind the common purpose of making great programmes." The "One BBC" slogan is seen as an indictment of his predecessor's regime.

Mr Dyke's plan puts programme makers at the top of a new structure, contrasting with Lord Birt's team, which was dominated by strategists and administrators. There are nine programme chiefs at Mr Dyke's top table of 17 executives, instead of the four who reported to Lord Birt. The main beneficiary is Mark Thompson, a former BBC2 controller who becomes director of television, a title formerly held by Alan Yentob, who will be Mr Dyke's "creative director" and who will be responsible for drama, entertainment, children's programming and film. He will also upgrade BBC drama. The spending gap between BBC1 and ITV on drama is £101m and Mr Dyke said: "The drama spend on BBC1 has got out of kilter with those we are competing with and we need to spend more on BBC drama."

Jenny Abramsky, already in charge of radio, becomes director of radio and is taking in Radio 5 Live from news and current affairs, and music production.

A Television Centre executive said: "The staff are happy at the changes. It puts popular programme people like Mark and Jenny at the top, while some key Birtists have been demoted." He was referring mainly to Matthew Bannister, former Radio One controller, who as director of production had a budget of hundreds of millions of pounds and now has the much smaller marketing and communications department.

Mr Dyke said: "We have taken out a complete level of management in the new structure. It's flatter, inclusive, and will result in more collaboration and less internal competition."

The layer of management that ran Lord Birt's infamous broadcast and production departments has been scrapped, as has the corporate centre and policy and planning unit.

But some executives said the controllers of BBC1 and BBC2, Peter Salmon and Jane Root, were not necessarily any closer to the director general than under the old system, given that Mr Yentob and a new head of factual programming will now be above them in the hierarchy.

Mr Dyke resolved to scrap the more nonsensical aspects of the internal market introduced by Lord Birt. He has set up a website for employees to complain about ways in which the market is not working, and said he wants to continue to hear of problems with the aim of eliminating them.

He also pledged to reduce the business units within the corporation from the present 190 to a more manageable 50.

Mr Dyke's overall aim is to cut duplication at many levels, a task that will begin now and be completed by October. Hundreds of jobs will be lost, although the precise figure is not clear. There is also a team in place to put together a new commissioning structure for the organisation and to work out where the money will go within it.

The shake-up gives back to programme makers a certain amount of guaranteed output, which was taken away under Lord Birt, leaving editors and producers uncertain whether future commissions would even cover their overheads. The new system should, said insiders, help to reduce tension in the organisation.

Mr Dyke said: "Programme makers have discovered they have no money, and it is money that matters. We need to give guaranteed output, enough to keep the whole thing going, but not enough to take away the competitive edge. If an area has guaranteed output and does not make anything which works or is critically acclaimed, they won't keep it."

Mr Dyke said a supremo would be appointed to preside over a single sports department, reporting directly to him. The sports head would have to "duck and dive" to secure sporting rights.

He ruled out a sports channel funded by the licence fee, but said the BBC would keep open its options on a commercial sports channel.