The BBC told paidContent:UK its main digital department will remain, despite being urged to overhaul its new media operations yesterday. The BBC Trust had found a 2007 restructure – that split BBC New Media activities across new Future Media & Technology (FM&T), Vision, Journalism and Audio & Music units – caused weaknesses in managerial control that led to a £36 million 2007/08 overspend, and it urged a new management structure within six months.
Whilst that might seem to complicate the appointment of a successor to FM&T director Ashley Highfield (if the Trust advocates re-centralisation, will FM&T even exist?), a spokesperson in the division said: “Such an appointment will not in any way be affected by the new management system for BBC.co.uk, nor will it ‘kill off‘ the Future Media & Technology division. The process to appoint a director for Future Media & Technology, in succession to Ashley Highfield, is well underway.”
He made the case that FM&T runs more than just BBC.co.uk, the focus of yesterday’s review: “Supporting BBC.co.uk is just one part of the role’s responsibilities alongside coordinating the BBC’s other on-demand activities, overseeing the BBC’s CTO and CIO functions, and managing the Research & Innovation and Information & Archives departments.” Perhaps this is how FM&T’s continuation will be justified to the Trust?
Yesterday’s review also said BBC.co.uk has been good value for money and provides quality services that people value. Highfield switches to BBC Worldwide on July 1, it’s confirmed, to be CEO of the Kangaroo VOD JV with ITV (LSE: ITV) and Channel 4, with FM&T controller Erik Huggers tipped by many as a possible successor.