The BBC Trust has accepted the BBC’s proposal for tightening financial and managerial control, a response to its £36 million BBC.co.uk 2007/08 overspend. A new “group controller” role will be created for BBC.co.uk (which does not include initiatives like iPlayer) to oversee the service, its financial performance, strategy, and ensure compliance with new targets from the trust. It’s unclear what this means for Tony Ageh, who is already in the post of “controller, internet, BBC.co.uk”. Perhaps a redefinition of his role… ?
At £110 million, last year’s BBC.co.uk spend was £24.9 million over even the 10 percent extra margin allowed by the regulator. The overspend was attributed to financial misallocation betwen departments rather than mission creep but, in scathing criticism, the trust blamed the oversight on poor management and ordered a new structure to be devised by December…
The trust today said the BBC executive’s proposal, which it approved on Wednesday, includes “a new set of rigorous controls”, though it’s not clear what exactly this means. Its approval means the freeze on online investment, which the trust enforced in May, is now lifted. The trust will review the new structure within a year.
The new controller’s main priority will be to include more links to third parties, improve search and ensure “distinctiveness” from the commercial sector – three key planks that will be included in a new BBC.co.uk service license the trust is drawing up following its earlier review.
Despite the overspend, the trust is increasing last year’s £74.2 million baseline budget to £114.4 million, again with 10 percent extra wiggle room. But the BBC is revising its tiimescales for asking the trust for more investment.