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New BBC director general George Entwistle used his first staff address to announce the closure of the operations division and the departure of the COO and one of his rivals for the job, Caroline Thomson. He also signalled a shake-up of the BBC Vision.
Entwistle stated “in around two years’ time, my aim is to have restructured the BBC – with fundamental implications for A&M [Audio and Music], Vision and Future Media”. He added: “To be ready to create and curate genuinely digital content, we will need to integrate all three disciplines … We need to be ready to produce and create genuinely digital content for the first time.”
The digital strategy of the last several years has been making linear broadcast material available on-demand, live and through multiple internet devices, principally through the iPlayer service. But Entwhistle said this practise has come to its natural limit; instead, he said, the BBC must now create content conceived for interactive platforms, not re-interpreted from older media.
“The BBC is rightly thought to have done well in the early stages of the digital revolution. iPlayer has been feted for its superbly engineered platform, which set new standards in video streaming, and a user interface that made catching up on the TV you’d missed a pleasure. But while celebrating all that, the real key to iPlayer is the unmissability of the content it offers.
Even in our near-miraculous coverage of the Olympics, I would say that we’ve taken – joyously – our capacity to present and distribute existing forms of content to their natural limits rather than innovate to discover genuinely new forms of content.”
“Yet it’s the quest for this – genuinely new forms of digital content – that represents the next profound moment of change we need to prepare for if we’re to deserve a new charter.”