Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Thinking ahead

The National Audit Office's report on the BBC's woeful Digital Media Initiative is important for what it does and does not say, and for the relationship between the two organisations in the future.

The NAO's kind view is that the BBC will be £10m in the red after this venture, instead of delivering savings of £17m.  It was a wrong 'un from the moment the ill-informed BBC Executive gave it the go-ahead - and somebody should go back to the original proposals and see whose fingerprints are on it.  The BBC does not make many archive programmes, and there was or will be no major cost advantage in all of the BBC's production teams having direct access to a shared and enormous archive. A similar vainglorious ambition was at the heart of the Siemens deal, now abandoned, at Pacific Quay, Glasgow, and remains an ignored warning. BBC Newsnight Scotland does not require instant access to back copies of the The Tales of The Para Handy.

£10m in the red is generous - many more alternative digital databases have been built since DMI fell over, and don't seem to feature, or be costed, in the NAO report.

Once thirty desks had been provided for the "concept team" on the ground floor of the Broadcast Centre, back in 2007/8, you knew nobody else in broadcasting would be daft enough to embark on this sort of venture. Just not thought through....   

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