In his first speech in front of BBC staff as the British public broadcaster’s new director general, George Entwistle has unveiled some of his plans and visions. He pledged his commitment to quality programming, saying the BBC must deliver “world-class creativity.”
He said that the BBC has “one core responsibility – to deliver content of outstanding creative quality whenever and wherever we can.”
“There’s only one thing that will guarantee the future of the BBC – the continuing love and trust of our audiences.” He added: “We must not stint in our efforts to improve the creative quality of what we produce.”
In a first announcement that will reduce part of the broadcaster’s bureaucracy, he plans to reduce the BBC’s management board from 25 to 12 and announced the shutdown of the operations division.
“I’m reorganising the BBC to group all the operational and finance functions in one business division under the chief financial officer,” he explained. Caroline Thomson, the corporation’s COO, who ran against Entwistle for the top post, will depart.
He praised the coverage of the London 2012 Games and said the BBC had to use “the Olympics formula and make it work again” on events including the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who, Glastonbury and Wimbledon.
He also said plans were under way to cover the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War, plus the World Cup, the Winter Olympics and the Commonwealth Games.
Mr Entwistle told staff: “Every one of these – to a greater or lesser extent – is an opportunity to apply the lessons we learned from the Olympics about how to work with one another – and not place the narrow interests of programme, channel or service ahead of those of the audience.
He lamented a lack of female presenters on TV: “We have made real progress in actively looking for, and finding, great female experts to front our big factual shows, but it’s not enough. The world will always be profoundly demanding of the BBC on this question, and it should be.”
He praised the BBC’s in-house production as “vital” but called for “a major scaling up in our engagement with partners” which will be seen as a sign the Corporation will take more shows from independent producers.
He said: “The next stage in this process must see us abandon Fortress BBC once and for all, and show how the public money invested in us can be put to work systematically for the benefit of more and more of the UK creative sector – in a way which serves their audiences as much as it does our own.”