“We must not waste time lamenting lost budget”- George Entwistle reveals the changes that will address BBC financial challenges
On his last day as BBC director general, Mark Thompson declared the BBC was leaving itself in a precarious position thanks to the recent round of budget cuts. However, the new director general George Entwistle has addressed the financial challenges the corporation faces in his first speech to staff. “Sadly for me, changing director general doesn’t make all the tricky stuff go away,” began Entwistle, “it just isn’t possible to change the financial fundamentals. The key to money in future is not to waste a penny. But our finance specialists aren’t the only people who know where inefficiency is and where savings might be made. “It’s often people on the frontline who really know where money is being wasted. We have to listen to them. I’ve seen early results from the latest staff survey and – worryingly I think – it shows that only 26% of you feel you’ve been asked to help in identifying where savings could be found. That’s no good...” Entwistle went on to say money saving will now be pushed far enough down the organisation, “empowering” people to save and spend wisely. “I’ve asked Zarin Patel, our Chief Financial Officer, to begin urgent work on how to develop our existing savings programme so it no longer feels like something the centre of the BBC does to content makers.,” he continued. “I intend to ensure that everyone in the BBC understands how they can play their part in making sure we spend the public money we get as efficiently as possible. Because the alternative is to go back and work out which services or programmes we shouldn’t produce any longer. And I don’t want to do that.” Throughout his address Entwistle made clear that creativity will be the driving force of the ‘new’ BBC, elaborating on the changes he feels must be made in order to realise his ambition of a more creative organisation led and managed in a more simplified way. “To do this,” he said “I believe the first task is to bring an end to the sense of there being two BBCs – the corporate centre and the rest. “As Director of Vision I myself fell into the trap at times of becoming a representative of my division to the centre. With every other creative division director behaving a bit like that too, we arrived at a place where the most senior people in the BBC didn’t always think about the interests of the organisation as a whole. “Only 42% of you believe the BBC’s senior managers apply the BBC values in the way they work. BBC leaders absolutely must set the right example to the whole organisation. “I believe the top level changes to managerial structure I’m announcing today will help fix things.” This restructuring includes a new Management Board, which replaces the BBC Direction Group from 25 people to 12. Entwistle also announced that there will no longer be both a Finance and Operations division. “With immediate effect, I’m reorganising the BBC to group all the operational and finance functions in one business division under the Chief Financial Officer. I believe this will play a vital part in simplifying the way we work so that a sharp focus on our creative purpose can be maintained.” Entwistle also revealed Lucy Adams is returning as Director of BBC People to the Executive Board and that Caroline Thomson, one of his rivals for the position of director general, will leave the organisation at the end of September. The full address can be read here.