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BBC wasted £100m on digital media flop, says government

Well, the government would know
Thu Apr 10 2014, 11:34
BBC Finance

THE BBC'S long-running digital media project was a flop that cost £100m, according to a hard-hitting government report.

The UK government has looked at the BBC's digital media initiative (DMI) over 50 times, and in its latest review the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) seemed really rather tired of the whole business. It is fortunate then that the BBC axed the DMI last year when new broom Tony Hall swept into charge.

"The BBC's Digital Media Initiative was a complete failure. Licence fee payers paid nearly £100 million for this supposedly essential system but got virtually nothing in return," said Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP, chair of the PAC in announcing the report.

"The main output from the DMI is an archive catalogue and ordering system that is slower and more cumbersome than the 40 year-old system it was designed to replace. It has only 163 regular users and a running cost of £3 million a year, compared to £780,000 a year for the old system."

Hodge said that while the DMI promised much it, delivered little, this despite the BBC having claimed that its plans were "essential" in 2011.

"The BBC was far too complacent about the high risks involved in taking it in-house. No single individual had overall responsibility or accountability for delivering the DMI and achieving the benefits, or took ownership of problems when they arose," she said.

"Lack of clearly defined responsibility and accountability meant the corporation failed to respond to warning signals that the programme was in trouble."

In a statement the BBC acknowledged that now all has not been dandy in DMI land, and said that it has no regrets about having shut it down recently.

"Tony Hall was right to scrap the DMI project when he took over as DG last year," said a spokesperson for the BBC.

"As we said at the time, the BBC didn't get DMI right and we apologised to licence fee payers - since then and we have completely overhauled how these projects are delivered so that there is crystal clear accountability and transparency." µ


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