Birt pledges sweeping modernisation of BBC

JOHN BIRT, Director-General of the BBC, yesterday set out a sweeping range of measures to modernise the way the corporation is run, just one week after taking over the reins of power.

He promised an effective BBC which clears away red tape, territorialism and confusion of strategy. However, some senior managers who listened to his statement said afterwards their hearts fell at the prospect of being tied up in yet more committees.

There were no dramatic board of management sackings, and there was no mention of programme-making departments merging to work for both radio and television. This followed advice from department heads that it would not work. 'Bi-media is, I think, the way of the future for us. But I judged it too far for one leap,' Mr Birt said.

He confirmed that Bob Phillis, chief executive of ITN, would join as deputy Director-General, in charge of resources. The BBC's television service overspent by pounds 38m last year, and has probably overspent by pounds 21m or more so far this year. The BBC has to recruit a new finance director urgently.

Mr Phillis will double up initially as managing director of World Services for the first six months, the job left vacant by John Tusa's departure. He will also oversee the integration of World Service Television - the new satellite news service - with radio output from Bush House.

Liz Forgan is joining as managing director of BBC Radio on 1 February, in charge of its five channels, a less grand role than had been anticipated. This part of the BBC is expected to experience the most change.

She replaces David Hatch, who retains his board of management seat for the present as adviser to the Director-General. He will help the presentation for the charter renewal.

In a speech on the BBC in 1991 Ms Forgan, currently director of programmes at Channel 4, had said: 'It would be mad to axe Radio 1 and 2 on the grounds that the commercial sector provides the same thing. If there is any tinkering about, it should be with Radio 3 . . . which is hugely expensive per listener.'

Mr Birt, in a filmed address to staff, said: 'Liz brings creative vitality . . . as well as eloquent advocacy and powerful convictions about public service.'

Though promising a more 'open and accountable' BBC, he refused to answer questions on whether it was spending some pounds 60,000 to buy out Ms Forgan's 'golden handcuffs', signed in 1991, which contracted her to Channel 4 for three years.

The changes mean that there are now four women on the BBC's 13-strong board of management, compared with two before. The second newcomer is Patricia Hodgson, director of policy and planning, in charge of the BBC's charter review negotiations.

Liz Forgan will head a one-off programme strategy review with Alan Yentob, controller of BBC2, to decide what to broadcast on television and radio and what to weed out.

An annual performance review, starting in June 1994, will assess each department's output. 'The annual performance review will be the fly-wheel that drives the BBC and keeps us alert and self-questioning,' Mr Birt said.

Key structural changes include:

Streamlining the operation to focus on strategy, policy and performance.

The separation of programme production from commissioning and scheduling in television and radio, buying in programmes from a range of sources.

The creation of a separate resources, engineering and services directorate, to run the production side of the BBC.

The creation of a programme archive unit, and a more limited role for BBC Enterprises.

BSkyB will introduce a satellite channel for children next October, in partnership with the American channel Nickelodeon, it was announced yesterday.

(Graphic omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea