Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Predicting the BBC's future?

Let’s make a prediction about the BBC. Michael Grade’s departure to ITV feels like a good juncture in the corporation’s history to take a punt on their future actions.

  • After a bitter battle, the government will bow to their own pressure and concede that a lesser licence fee increase will be more acceptable to the general public and the rest of the media industry.
  • So the BBC's big play for lots more money to build innovative services will be squashed.
  • The licence fee settlement will be closer to RPI plus ½% rather than the asked for RPI+1.8% (or the original +2.3%).
  • The Salford move will be canned. “A consequence of government short-sightedness” will ring out the message from the BBC Press Office. And given that many of the staff in affected departments were never convinced it was a good move, this will provide a morale boost for an organisation that’s just lost it’s chairman to the opposition.
  • However, to be seen to satisfy the wider get-out-of-London campaign, will be introduced targets to increase the number of staff working in existing regional BBC centres outside of the M25, and capped head count increases in London.
  • So expect more children’s programming to have a Welsh accent.
  • Expect more new media from Salford, Manchester to salve the wound and boost the emerging technology industry in the area. But expect the BBC in Manchester to move to new smaller city centre premises in 2011, but not to Salford in 2010.
  • There will be further outsourcing of non-core aspects of the BBC to reduce cost. If the pattern of moving Human Resources to Reed in Belfast is followed, this will help with the decentralisation/regionalisation message too.
  • Some senior managers and commissioners will be encouraged to work a few days a week outside London. They’ll be dubbed “regional champions” and will spend a few nights a week wining and dining local councillors and regional stakeholders to boost BBC’s image in the provinces.

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