BBC director of marketing and communications Matthew Bannister has criticised the corporation’s 100 Tribes audience classification system and called for its simplification.
The system, designed to play a key role in classifying audiences and commissioning programming, was launched last year.
But Bannister said the BBC had started to move away from the system and its use would be limited.
“In an ideal world, we should have 56 million tribes, because people need to be treated as individuals but, of course, that’s impossible,” he says.
His comments were made at the Edinburgh Television Festival during an examination of the relationship between marketing and programming and later reported in the BBC’s internal newspaper Ariel.
A BBC spokesman declined to reveal how much the system had cost to develop, but claimed it was a “framework” for the corporation’s focus on attitudinal groups.
Greg Dyke’s predecessor Sir John Birt ordered the research project, the results of which were later incorporated by the then deputy director of television David Docherty into the commissioning processes for BBC1 and BBC2.
The aim was to use the system to replace tools such as the ABC1/C2DE classification because they were not considered sophisticated enough.
The 100 Tribes system operated by cross-referencing three classification systems. The systems relate to socio-demographic groups, communities and listings by passions or interests.