Leaner corporation now has Freeview (and more football)

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Indy Politics

Greg Dyke departs the BBC after four years as director general, leaving the corporation a happier and more creative place.

Following the Dalek days of his predecessor, John Birt, Mr Dyke introduced a can-do approach that has restored staff morale and - after a faltering start - rejuvenated programme-making.

Mr Dyke had signalled his reforming intent even before taking the helm in January 2000, when he described traditional broadcasters as being stuck in "their elitist ways".

On taking over as director general, he promptly conducted a thorough shake-up, in a move that simplified the BBC's organisational structure. Among his major initiatives was the building of a universal digital service through Freeview, as a replacement to the defunct ITV Digital system. An estimated 1.6 million homes now receive the terrestrial service.

The recent completion of the BBC's line-up of digital television and radio stations shows Mr Dyke's initiatives will play a crucial role in the conversion of homes to digital, as the proposed 2010 analogue switch-off date approaches. Under Mr Dyke's charge, revenues of BBC Worldwide - the corporation's commercial arm - have climbed to in excess of £700m and returned profits of around £100m. Under orders from the Government to capitalise on its creative assets, the BBC has sold programmes as diverse as the Teletubbies and The Office around the world. Merchandising has increased profits further.

In sport, after a period when the BBC saw its coverage much reduced by the buying power of Rupert Murdoch's Sky TV, Mr Dyke promised to "duck and dive" to get more football. After an early setback, when the BBC lost the Premiership to ITV, Mr Dyke leaves having secured the return of the Saturday-night highlights package on Match of the Day , starting next season.

He was a champion of moves to make the BBC's workforce and output more culturally diverse. He described BBC management as "hideously white". The corporation has now reached its first ethnic minority targets of 4.3 per cent of senior managers and slightly more than 10 per cent of all BBC employees.

He declared himself an enemy of bureaucracy, which he believed was smothering creativity at the corporation. Mr Dyke pleased staff by scrapping Lord Birt's internal market, which had been similar to the Tories' "purchaser-provider" split in the NHS. This move contributed to cutting the cost of running the organisation from 24 per cent of its income, when Mr Dyke arrived, to 15 per cent. As part of his drive to free up even more of the licence fee for programme makers, he clamped down on croissants at BBC breakfasts and imposed tight restrictions on the use of taxis by BBC staff.

Mr Dyke was arguably guilty of "dumbed down" programming in the early days, but he responded by investing heavily in high-quality drama and arts programmes.