Corporate culture faces re-education

JOHN BIRT'S ambitious plans for 'turning promises into realities' include re-educating Auntie and all who work there, writes Maggie Brown.

BBC managers are to have a special master's degree programme tailored for them. Mr Birt said this would aim to 'enhance management skill within a creative institution'. He seemed stung that outsiders found this amusing - pointing out that many large corporations devised 'hand-crafted' special courses - while insiders viewed with horror the prospect of trying to pack more into their busy schedules.

As part of his drive to eradicate the old BBC culture that he loathes, every one of the BBC's 23,000 staff will, by the end of the year, be invited to a day-long discussion on 'how each individual can contribute to a more effective BBC' and help move it in its new direction.

'Whenever possible, and I hope this will be on the majority of occasions, I shall myself participate in the discussion at the end of each day,' Mr Birt promised. 'In 1994, we shall take this debate to every work unit in the BBC.'

'We want a workplace climate everywhere in the BBC which is involving and which enthuses each member of staff to play their full part.'

By contrast, Bob Phillis, the incoming deputy Director-General, who turned up for a photo-call, is a low profile, hard working committee man. No one is less likely to be seen sporting a trendy Armani suit - Mr Birt's chosen office attire. Invariably polite, Mr Phillis is renowned for being one of a rare breed within television who knows how to manage effectively. In many ways, he has the tougher job.

The two men should make an effective team with clearly complementary skills: they worked together on ITV's network programme and film purchase committees during the 1980s and respect each other's meticulous approach.