Entertainment & Arts

BBC director general Tony Hall 'to cut bureaucracy'

Tony Hall
Image caption Tony Hall became BBC director general in April

BBC director general Tony Hall has said he will light a "bonfire of the boards" at the corporation in an attempt to cut bureaucracy and stimulate creativity.

He vowed to tackle the BBC's "meeting culture", which "hampers creativity".

Writing in The Sunday Telegraph, Lord Hall pledged to halve the number of pan-BBC boards and steering groups.

He wrote: "This 'bonfire of the boards' should speed up decision-making and release some of the resources currently wasted on bureaucracy for programmes."

He added: "A simpler BBC should mean a more creative BBC."

In his five months as director general, Lord Hall has faced the fallout from the Jimmy Savile scandal, criticism over the size of management pay-offs and the collapse of the BBC's £98m Digital Media Initiative IT project.

In his article, he said the BBC had a lot to learn from companies such as Google and Apple, which he visited on a recent trip to the US.

"To launch an initiative, one of our colleagues at Google had to speak to two people," he wrote. "To get agreement to do the BBC's first ebook, someone at the BBC had to speak to more than two dozen."

He hailed Silicon Valley's "fail fast culture", which meant it was "much better to kill off what had seemed like a good idea, and be upfront about it, than to work on, hoping it might come good".

'Failed idea'

"At the BBC, we wasted nearly £100m on a computer project because no-one was prepared to call time on a failed idea," he wrote.

The BBC must be "much clearer" on how decisions were made and who was accountable for them, he added.

"We often spend far too long agonising over decisions that other organisations have learnt to make much more efficiently."

In evidence to the Pollard Review of the Savile affair, BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten described the corporation's management culture as "dysfunctional" and "chaotic".

Lord Hall also said he wanted to see more women on screen and in senior roles. The appointment of Mishal Husain to Radio 4's Today programme was "a good start", he wrote.

The director general recently announced a plan to ensure half of all local radio breakfast shows have female presenters on their teams. He also pledged to recruit more people from black and ethnic minority backgrounds.

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