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Failure of BBC's £100 million digital project a "shocking waste of money"

24 May 2013

Days after the BBC upped its paltry pay offer by a measly £50, it has announced that it is to scrap its Digital Media Initiative (DMI) and is writing off the project, which has cost almost £100 million.

Tony Hall, BBC director general, said:

"The DMI project has wasted a huge amount of licence-fee payers' money and I saw no reason to allow that to continue, which is why I have closed it. I have serious concerns about how we managed this project and the review that has been set up is designed 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."

The Digital Media Initiative was intended to create new digital production tools and link them with a central, digital archive. But, as Tony Hall said, it "struggled to keep pace with new developments".

In a letter to staff, he said:

"Following a review of the DMI, we have decided to stop the project in its current form. Since 2010, we will have spent £98.4m on DMI. Today's decision means that we are writing-off all of the assets related to this project."

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said:

"This represents a shocking waste of money. It seems the BBC cannot afford a fair pay rise for staff who create the top quality content that licence fee payers want, but it is able to squander vast sums of public money on hopeless projects like this.
"It is right that the director general has stopped it in its tracks and no doubt there will be more such decisions as he unearths all of the skeletons lying in BBC cupboards. Tony Hall said he will be taking appropriate action, disciplinary or otherwise, and I hope the executives who are to blame for this are called fully to account."

The NUJ and broadcasting union Bectu are now negotiating with their members on taking action over the BBC's failure to meet its pay claim, proposals to change the arrangements on antisocial-hours' payments and changes to redundancy terms. The unions are already working to rule over as part of a dispute over compulsory redundancies, excessive workloads and bullying.

Tags: , bbc, pay, digital media, technology, bbc licence fee