What's Auntie got up her sleeve?

Hello. People seem very unclear about what Mr John Birt's new reforms at the BBC mean, writes Ralph Treadmill, the BBC's new Deputy Controller of Logic, so let me try to explain very simply.

First, let me clear up one misunderstanding. John Birt is not the same person as John Bird! John Birt is the Director-General of the BBC and John Bird is a small, plump actor who looks nothing like him at all! ( You may be thinking of John Fortune, John Bird's partner, a tall, thin man with a convincing line in plausible gobbledegook. He might well be mistaken for John Birt.)

Right. Now, what are we trying to do with these reforms? Well, basically, we are continuing the market-driven reforms that we have already initiated. Now, what are the market-driven reforms we have already initiated and which we are hoping to continue with these new reforms? Well, our policy under this new Birtian revolution has been to locate our areas of excellence and then to sell them off. This means that wherever we have found something or someone that works really well, we have closed it down or sold it off so that we can hire them or it back privately at much greater expense.

One example might be the Christchurch studio in Bristol, which we had expensively restored and equipped as one of the finest drama radio studios anywhere in the world. Once we had got it up and running, we transferred the drama department to Birmingham and closed Christchurch down. Actions like this were repeated all over the country. People were put in charge of whole regions whose sole function and sole talent was to fire people, make them go independent and hire themselves back to the BBC.

One name we thought of for this was "producer choice". This was a way of saying that the preferred choice was no longer available and the producer would have to think of something else.

In the short term this is, of course, more expensive. But in the long term it is more expensive, too. Thus we see a symmetry in our plans and we also can justify asking for more money. This is especially necessary ever since we found that Radio 4 was overspent by millions of pounds. And do you know why this was? It was because they forgot at Radio 4 to budget for all the stuff going out on Long Wave! So suddenly they had a shortfall of millions of pounds! I don't know why we keep saying that the BBC is saving money under John Birt when we are haemorrhaging this sort of cash!

I am not sure Ralph is explaining himself very well, writes Oscar Dunning, the BBC's new head of Apologia Presentation. What he meant to say, I am sure, is that in the new age ushered in by digital broadcasting, we have to move with the times and streamline things. That means merging radio and TV. That means merging News and Current Affairs and Light Entertainment. That means ending up with one vast department called TV and Radio News and Comedy, run by Matthew Bannister, which will put out all the programmes.

We are already moving in this direction. Have I Got News For You? is newsy AND funny, while Newsnight with Jeremy Paxman has high entertainment value and little news.

Now, I know that people have got their doubts about the merging of radio and TV. They say that radio and TV are two very different animals, with different methods. They say that Radio 4 is streets ahead of BBC 2. I have very great respect for this view. That is why we are ignoring it with such a show of crocodile tears. The plain fact is that radio comes up with all the good ideas that later get turned into TV programmes, so by merging them we can get those ideas sooner!

I don't think Oscar is quite sticking to the market-driven agenda, writes Veronica Longstaff, the BBC's new Head of Management-Led Internal Memos, so let me put it a little differently. Programmes are all very well in their own way, but ...

The debate continues ...

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Sport
ESPN footage showed a split-screen Murray’s partner Kim Sears and Berdych’s partner Ester Satorova 'sporting' their jewellery
tennis
Arts and Entertainment
Cold case: Aaron McCusker and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvReview: Sky Atlantic's ambitious new series Fortitude has begun with a feature-length special
Voices
Three people wearing masks depicting Ed Miliband, David Cameron and Nick Clegg
voicesPolitics is in the gutter – but there is an alternative, says Nigel Farage
Voices
The veterans Mark Hayward, Hugh Thompson and Sean Staines (back) with Grayson Perry (front left) and Evgeny Lebedev
charity appealMaverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
News
i100
News
people
Sport
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho
footballThe more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Life and Style
Vote green: Benoit Berenger at The Duke of Cambridge in London's Islington
food + drinkBanishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turn over a new leaf
News
Joel Grey (left) poses next to a poster featuring his character in the film
peopleActor Joel Grey comes out at 82
News
i100
News
business
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing & Sales Manager

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A reputable organisation within the leisure i...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Recruitment Genius: Doctors - Dubai - High "Tax Free" Earnings

£96000 - £200000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Looking for a better earning p...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer

£32000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A rapidly expanding company in ...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee