PERSPECTIVE: Dyke’s reforms can finally drag the BBC out of the Dark Ages

That Greg Dyke has taken the BBC by the balls, given it a good squeeze and made more than a few eyes water will have come as no surprise to any of his former colleagues.

That Greg Dyke has taken the BBC by the balls, given it a good

squeeze and made more than a few eyes water will have come as no

surprise to any of his former colleagues.



The flabby, teeth-gnashingly bureaucratic corporation is getting the

sort of overhaul that most commercially driven companies would have been

forced into at City-gun point years ago.



Several hundred jobs are to go and senior executives who have revelled

in the luxury of two company cars will now find their driver replaced

with a copy of the latest railway timetable.



Not surprisingly, the BBC’s marketing function has not escaped the

clear-up. Perhaps among the most commercially minded and successful of

all the BBC’s departments the marketing units have nevertheless been

confusingly divided into public service and corporate marketing, the

former headed by Sue Farr and the latter by Jane Frost.



Dyke is now pooling all marketing activities and has handed the prize to

Matthew Bannister, the chief executive of BBC Production.



Farr is now thought unlikely to stay with the corporation. Risking the

departure of such talent from one of his most important departments is a

risky move by Dyke but one which must surely stem from more than a

desire to find a seat at the top table for Bannister.



In the broadcasting climate of the future there is a persuasive argument

for aligning the programming and production skills of a man like

Bannister with a strong marketing team. It is, after all, a formula

which has rejuvenated ITV’s fortunes in recent years, where ITV’s

Network Centre ensures that marketing and programming work seamlessly

together.



But Dyke is not simply playing catch up. Like ITV, he is clear that the

right marketing strategy will flow naturally from the right programme

schedule. Yet, unlike ITV’s Network Centre, Dyke’s remit also spans all

elements of the broadcasting mix - from controlling the purse to

exploring how BBC camera crews can work more efficiently in partnership

with Granada Television.



Dyke’s overhaul has the potential to create uniformity and cohesion at

the BBC after the years of unhappiness. A restructured marketing

function, a new emphasis on combining quality programming with high

ratings and a little extra licence fee money will provide Dyke with the

ammunition to really drive an attack into the heart of its biggest

commercial rival.



ITV, meanwhile, is in limbo, waiting to hear whether Carlton and United

News & Media will be allowed to merge and whether Granada will launch a

counter bid. Small wonder that MindShare’s chief operating officer,

Dominic Proctor, and Publicis’ chief, Richard Hytner, have been so quick

to rule themselves out of the search for a new chief executive of

ITV.





Caroline Marshall is on maternity leave.