BBC expected to announce massive restructure bringing TV and radio together into three 'super-departments'
Exclusive: root-and-branch reform, which will reorganise the BBC into BBC Entertain, BBC Inform and BBC Educate, will be delivered after the Government White Paper but uncertainty is causing unease at the top of the Corporation, writes Ben Dowell
BBC director general Tony Hall is expected to deliver a wholesale reform of the entire organisation next month, according to senior sources.
The planned restructure, which will see an abolition of the traditional divisions between BBC television and radio, was expected at Easter but has been redrawn a number of times, according to insiders.
Sticking points are said to include objections from some senior staff to their new roles and also uncertainty surrounding the future of the organisation before the Government decides on the BBC's scale and scope for the next Charter period.
The Government has still not published its White Paper on the future of the BBC and Hall is understood to be planning to announce the changes after that, when the terms of the BBC's new deal are clearer.
Broadcasting Minister Ed Vaizey recently disclosed that the White Paper will be put before Parliament “a week or so” after the 5th May local elections. It will put forward the Government’s proposals for the BBC Charter and effectively decide its future for the traditional ten-year period – although the future length of the Charter remains an area of debate and could be changed. The BBC in turn expects to announce its restructure a week after that with Monday 23rd May a likely date for the announcement.
Under Hall’s current plans the BBC departments will be reorganised down genre lines by abolishing the broadcaster’s radio and television channel divisions and implementing a genre-based commissioning structure. As it stands, there will be three massive 'super-departments', BBC Entertain, BBC Inform and BBC Educate.
The new structure will represent the most radical shake-up of the way the BBC is organised in its 93-year history.
BBC Entertain is expected to comprise TV entertainment and Radio 2. It will also include a sub division called BBC Youth which currently features a suggested tie-in between BBC3 and Radio 1, as RadioTimes.com exclusively revealed last February.
BBC Inform will take in all the BBC news departments and radio stations including Five Live.
BBC Educate is expected to cover Radio 4 and the documentary departments, although none of these demarcations are yet set in stone.
Current favourites to take the jobs include BBC director of strategy and digital James Purnell, who is expected to run BBC Educate, and director of news and current affairs James Harding who is the favoured candidate to run BBC Inform.
Acting director of television Charlotte Moore is thought to be the front-runner to head up BBC Entertain.
According to some sources, the delay in announcing the restructure is causing unease at the highest levels of the BBC, which has seen a slew of top-level executives depart in recent months. These include director of television Danny Cohen, head of BBC Studios Peter Salmon, controller of drama commissioning Polly Hill and BBC2 controller Kim Shillinglaw.
BBC management is also focused at the moment on charter renewal with a slew of strategists said to be “working round the clock” to secure as good a deal as possible from the Government.
A BBC spokesman said: “People know that the BBC is looking at its optimal shape to meet the challenges of the future, clearly there will be lots of speculation about that, but people won’t have long to wait to see what we actually propose.”