Today saw the publication of the Nick Pollard (ex-Sky) report on BBC news management which has been in the spotlight since the Jimmy Savile revelations. It really didn't tell us much we didn't know, or suspect, already. It is a valuable report, however, in that it came from an outsider, and not just any outsider, but from someone who had worked in a similar line of business in a a public company. Now from my experience, most public companies generally won't tolerate excessive or incompetent management as they prefer to spend their money on their core business. They also prefer clear lines of responsibility so that an individual can clearly be held to account if necessary. The BBC, as is clear from the report, has an excessive number of managers with overlapping responsibilities, many of whom have risen from the ranks to a level of total incompetence.
Specifically, the report says that “leadership was in short supply” and that management was “completely incapable” of.dealing with the developing situation. A damming indictment, one would have thought, and one which in most businesses would have resulted in the departure of all of those concerned. Not so in the BBC, all that is happening is that the deputy head of news has decided to retire whilst three other senior managers are being moved to different posts. Just like a game of musical chairs, one falls out whilst the rest end up on different seats! No mention whatsoever of cutting back on management, and presumably, all the overlapping responsibilities with their lack of any coherent chain of command, will remain.
The report appears to be competent and thorough. The BBC's response is anything but!
The BBC trustees don't seem to have been mentioned, when clearly they are, at least in part, responsible for the debacle. They have appointed successive DGs and one would have thought they would have taken some notice of the management structure and the effectiveness of the organisation. They have allowed the top (highly paid) structure to grow without apparently even sounding any word of warning. One might ask exactly what they do, as their failures seem to have cost the licence payers a lot of money which could have been better spent on programmes. Certainly, in my view, Chris Patten's position is totally untenable and he should resign forthwith. But he won't, it's simply not a done thing these days (at least not without an accompanying bag of gold).
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