The successor to BBC director of television Danny Cohen is set to have a diminished and redefined role under proposals currently being thrashed out within the Corporation, RadioTimes.com understands.
Under the current thinking, the role which Cohen is due to vacate next month is set to “shrink” and be “re-shaped” according to top level sources, with enormous power being handed to the new boss of BBC Studios Peter Salmon if plans to bolster the reach and remit of the new production base are approved by the Government and the BBC Trust.
The Corporation declined to comment on the claims, or say whether this was partly responsible for Cohen’s decision to stand down from his job last week.
In his statement, Cohen said he was keen to find a new challenge and wanted to quit to avoid rumours and speculation about his future.
But it is understood that the director of television job, previously considered the second most powerful position at the BBC, will be ”diminished”, with the new incumbent likely to lose additional powers to the new head of BBC Studios.
In fact the director of television role could be reduced to a director of content brief – which means it will cover radio and television and online commissioning but have no oversight of production.
Already Salmon is responsible for the entirety of the Corporation’s in-house content production after being made head of BBC Studios in July. However the BBC has further ambitions for the role.
Under the plans for BBC Studios, director-general Tony Hall said he wanted independent producers to be able to pitch for virtually all of the BBC’s output, with the Corporation’s 2,000-strong production base in turn freed up to pitch ideas to other broadcasters.
This has caused some alarm for commercial broadcasters and independent production companies and the proposals need to be effectively rubber-stamped by the Government because they have been rolled into Whitehall’s renewal of the BBC’s royal charter.
The Trust has already indicated that it is broadly supportive of the plans.
When his appointment was announced, Hall said Salmon had a “great track record as a programme-maker and a creative leader”, adding “I believe he’s the right person to help shape and mould BBC Studios”.
Salmon has not received a pay rise on top of the existing salary of £375,000 he earned last year but with a new job overseeing the production of hit shows such as Doctor Who and Top Gear, it’s fair to say his power within the BBC has significantly increased.
His salary is also in excess of the £320,000 figure earned by Cohen at the time of his departure.
Ben has worked as a professional journalist specialising in TV and the arts for nearly twenty years. After a two year stint on local newspapers in the mid 1990s, he spent more than 5 years as the broadcast reporter at the Stage newspaper. Following that he enjoyed staff reporting positions at the Sunday Mirror and the Sunday Times breaking stories and writing features before settling as a full time freelance writing for an array of newspapers and magazines - but mainly for the Guardian, Evening Standard, Broadcast, Independent and the New Statesman where he wrote a column.