BBC Studios loses executive on eve of relaunch

The BBC has lost another executive of its in-house production unit just hours before the department will relaunch as BBC Studios, raising concerns as to the way the department is being reorganised.

Mark Freeland was controller of fiction and entertainment at the BBC’s in-house production team. He said proposed changes from newly appointed director of BBC Studios Mark Linsey will not give him the creative platform he needs, resulting in his departure.

In an email to BBC staff announcing his resignation, Freeland said he has been discussing with Linsey the way he is taking Studios forward, and that some of Linsey’s ‘strategic’ changes “will not give me the creative platform I need to be at my very best & add maximum value to the Studios project”.

“The highest standards of creativity and value amount to a position of personal integrity to me. Those of you who know me, will appreciate that creativity - being close to production & talent - is absolutely central to the way I operate.” he added.

Freeland’s departure means BBC Studios now has three vacancies, including the head of natural history job vacated by Wendy Darke, and head of digital.

He becomes the eighth senior executive to leave the BBC in a matter of months, along with director of television Danny Cohen, controller of seasons and special projects Janice Hadlow, creative director Alan Yentob, BBC2 controller Kim Shillinglaw, and drama chief Polly Hill, who is leaving to join ITV.

In a surprise move former BBC Studios boss Peter Salmon jumped ship to Endemol Shine at the beginning of March, leading to Linsey’s appointment.

His departure was cited by the BBC as the reason for the delay in the planned restructure of the organisation, which was expected at Easter. The restructure will see an abolition of the traditional divisions between BBC television and radio.

The first phase of the restructured BBC Studios will launch tomorrow, separating from the BBC’s television arm, and becoming responsible for its own budget and its own accountability.

BBC director general Tony Hall is expected to deliver a wholesale reform of the entire organisation next month, according to senior sources.

Jessica Goodfellow

The Drum's media reporter covering everything from publishing, TV, social media, radio and technology.

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