Advanced Television

BBC Red Tape war

January 18, 2013

The BBC is holding a Simplicity Week at its £1 billion Salford base culminating in a simplicity “brainstorm” as the broadcaster seeks to identify “60 fixes” in the next six months. Staff have also been invited to make suggestions to a “simplicity hotline” with an as-yet unidentified prize on offer for the best suggestion. An email address is complemented by a more old-fashioned alternative – a suggestion box in the 5 Live kitchen – with business cards left on people’s desks to encourage their most creative thinking.

Various BBC director generals have tried to rein in bureaucracy, but it was Greg Dyke’s yellow card scheme in 2002 that was most memorable. Employees were handed the cards, saying “cut the crap and make it happen”, which were meant to be brandished at meetings to prevent ideas being stifled.

The latest efficiency drive – begun by former director general Mark Thompson under the title Delivering Quality First – is part of the BBC’s ongoing effort to save £700 million across the corporation after the licence fee was frozen until 2016, in which the publicly funded broadcaster has promised to reduce the number of tiers of management from nine to seven.

The BBC, which employs nearly 22,000 people and spent £4.3bn in the UK in 2011-12, has become renowned for its multi-layered, colourfully titled hierarchy, with job titles such as “thematic adviser, governance”.

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