LONDON Dec 11 After a year of turbulence, the
BBC unveiled plans for a management shake-up on Wednesday to
help restore confidence in Britain's publicly funded
broadcaster, starting with the appointment of ex-Sony CEO and
CBS president Howard Stringer.
The appointment was among a raft of changes designed to cut
red tape, accelerate decision-making and clarify vague lines of
responsibility that culminated in a finger-pointing session this
year over who approved large payments to departing staff.
As well as the public row over severance payments, the BBC
faced controversies over prolific sex crimes by late TV
presenter Jimmy Savile and the failure of a 100 million pound
($160 million) digital media project.
Following a review of governance, the corporation's two
leaders, Director General Tony Hall and BBC Trust chairman Chris
Patten, announced changes to clearly divide the responsibilities
of the executive board that runs day-to-day operations and the
Trust that assesses the executive.
To strengthen the executive board, Hall will boost the
number of non-executive directors to six from four, drawing in
expertise from outside such as Stringer who will join on January
1 and these appointees will take a more prominent public role.
Senior executives will be given greater power to make
decisions and 60 percent of pan-BBC boards, currently totally
about 56, will be scrapped from April next year including the
director general's finance committee.
To aid transparency, the executive will provide a more
thorough monthly report to the BBC Trust which will hold public
performance review sessions.
The Trust will step away from the day-to-day management of
issues, creating a greater separation between the two groups.
Patten said Britons, who fund the BBC through paying annual
licence fees, valued the broadcaster's programmes but they also
needed to have faith in the way the corporation was run.
"There is no doubt that events over the past year ... have
rattled that faith," Patten said in a blog.
"I hope that, as a result of the changes we have announced
today, the constant debate around the BBC will shift to focus on
the programmes and content it makes, rather than how it is run."
The changes come after public clashes between Patten and
former BBC Director General Mark Thompson, now chief executive
at the New York Times Company, over who knew what about large
severance payments to departing senior executives.
The confusion was seen as potentially damaging to the
current structure of the BBC ahead of the renewal of its 10-year
charter which is due to take place by the end of 2016.
Hall, who took up office in April this year, has pledged to
improve decision-making and cut management duplication while
setting a target to double the BBC's global audience by 2022.