BBC £100m digital project scandal leads to suspension of CTO and deserting project: What can Africa learn from this


Last week the BBC was rocked by a scandal that lead to the scrapping of a £98m digital production system, which its director general said had “wasted a huge amount of license fee payers’
money”. The Digital Media Initiative was set up in 2008 but was halted last autumn having never become fully operational.

But what is the Digital Media Initiative?

  • The Digital Media Initiative (DMI) was designed as a production
    tool that would make BBC recordings accessible to staff via a desktop –
    from the raw footage right through to the final edit.
  • Archive material would also have been accessible via the DMI,
    making it a one-stop shop for staff making TV and radio programmes.
  • While it would have been available to both radio and television producers, DMI was primarily designed for TV output.
  • Off-the-shelf production software like Apple’s Final Cut Pro and Avid’s Pro Tools are widely used by the rest of the media industry.

The Digital Media Initiative was set up in 2008 but was halted last autumn having never become fully operational.

“I have serious concerns about how we managed this project. An independent review has been launched to find out what went wrong and what lessons can be learned. Ambitious technology projects like this always carry a risk of failure.It does not mean we should not attempt them but we have a responsibility to keep them under much greater control than we did here.”

— BBC director general Tony Hall said.

Between 2010 and 2012, the project cost the corporation £98.4m. An internal review was set up in October 2012 after the BBC Trust expressed serious concerns.

“The project has generated little or no assets. It is of utmost concern to us that a project which had already failed to deliver value for money in its early stages has now spent so much more of licence fee payers’ money.
We intend to act quickly to ensure that there can be no repeat of a failure on this scale.”

— BBC Trust’s Anthony Fry revealed

CTO on suspension

FROM OUR SPONSOR- Continue for more content

John Linwood, the BBC’s chief technology officer, has been suspended. Lord Hall further emphasized that they will be looking into what has happened and will take appropriate action, disciplinary or otherwise.

“In the future we are going to rely far more on off-the-shelf technology. We’ve messed up and we apologise to licence fee payers for that.”

— James Purnell, the BBC’s director of strategy and digital

Lessons learned

Here in Africa scandals are always rocking our nations,  but governments manage to keep them under wraps or at times shamelessly don’t care about the repercussions . What we learn from from this, is that a simple apology to the nation and tax payers is more than a thousand words. And of course crafting away forward and not only installing commissions of inquires whose reports never get to see the day of light.

Source, Image & Video credit: BBC