BBC director-general Mark Thompson made it clear that “ratings are never the most important thing” for any of the corporation’s services in his first speech to staff.
The words will go some way to allay advertisers’ and commercial broadcasters’ concerns over the BBC’s past behaviour in chasing viewing figures.
Thompson is also launching a review of the BBC’s commercial activities, which have come in for criticism for being too overt.
It will look at what commercial activities the BBC should undertake and what activities it should do itself or with partners.
Thompson has also made John Smith, director of finance, property and business affairs, chief operating officer of the BBC, with responsibility for the BBC’s commercial operations, including BBC Worldwide and BBC Broadcast.
Other reviews will look into the BBC’s finances, its regional strategy and the relationship between commissioning and production.
The BBC is currently spending more than its income. Thompson says: “As we are now in debt, we need to very carefully control cash – we cannot risk exceeding our statutory borrowing limit.”
Thompson will also introduce a new flattened management structure with a nine-strong executive board that includes Andy Duncan, BBC director of marketing, communications and audiences, in place of the 17-strong executive committee.
He also plans an overhaul of the BBC’s complaints procedure and the implementation of the recommendations of the Neil report into the Kelly, Andrew Gilligan and Hutton affair.