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
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
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
Caroline Marshall is on maternity leave.