Friday, November 20, 2015


New figures from BBC Strategy Director James Purnell have deflated some of the windiest campaigners seeking more spending by Auntie in "The Nations".  Politicians and lobbyists in Scotland and Wales have been looking to a new Charter as a potential windfall of re-distributed licence-fee funds and new quango jobs.

But, by adding distribution costs to content spend (i.e. more transmitter infrastructure required to get over all them Munros, Crugs, Cyrns and Arans), and going for population by head rather than household, Mr Purnell calculates current BBC spending in Wales at £83.60 per head per annum, followed by Northern Ireland at £83.40, Scotland at £72.20, and England at £52.10.

The figures were presented at a event in Wales, reported by The Guardian. Mr Purnell also revealed there was some thinking about creating specific "service licences" for output in the Nations and Regions. And Welsh Trustee Elan Closs Stephens called for nations representation on any new unitary board.

This could be important stuff. Current BBC bosses in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are like viceroys, called back to the London HQ at least once a month. They've acquired more network production over recent years, but command and control of that content stays pretty much in London, In a world where they might have to take more direct responsibility for delivery to a service licence, they need more room to manoeuvre - and, without unnecessarily slighting the incumbents, they might have to be more creative types rather than area managers, to get the seats they want at a top table.

Is it possible to imagine a BBC Executive made up of Non-Exec Chairman, CEO/DG, Director of Content, Director of England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales, and CFO (plus balancing non-execs) ?  Too big and unwieldy, I think.

But it is possible to imagine, in this new world where the BBC is inevitably drifting to a publisher/broadcaster future, a Content Board reporting to a Director of Content, where its the programmes that matter. And then all the money-making stuff - BBC Worldwide, BBC Studios etc - on a parallel Business Board, run by Anne Bulford, which also looks after bogs and boilers. Whaddya think ?


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