Thursday, July 20, 2006

BBC reorganisation

The BBC today announced a very thorough plan for re-organisation (coverage from Netribution and Press Gazette). The plan creates three large macro-units, BBC Vision, BBC Journalism, and BBC Audio, which will form the core of the BBC's organisation. Other units which ply their trade across the BBC - Future Media & Technology (FM&T), Policy, Strategy and Legal, HR, Finance, and so on, - are either 'mainstreamed' into the three macro-units, or merged with other units. For example, Policy, Strategy & Legal becomes BBC Operations, with the same person, Caroline Thomson, taking over as COO in addition to her previous policy and strategy brief.

The thinking behind the plan seems appropriate: in conditions of convergence, rigid demarcations between content platforms (television, radio) make little sense, and may inhibit the development of platform-independent content. Demarcations based on media type, however, remain salient; they are suitable candidates for reshaping any organisation which manufactures content.

There are, I suggest, two principal challenges. The first challenge is for those units mentioned above - FM&T and Operations. They must ensure that they don't become absorbed by the macro-units without making their input felt. The second challenge will be for the entire organization: the pace of change at the BBC now seems very great indeed. BBC Worldwide and BBC People are already morphing; and the new BBC Trust is an entirely new institution. Making sure these newly carved pieces fit together smoothly in the jigsaw will be an important managerial challenge. Fortunately, organizational change has not been accompanied by personnel change. The same individuals - Mark Byford, Jana Bennett, Jenny Abramsky - will be able to manage the change.

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