We may never know the true cost of the BBC’s latest disaster – but it’ll be a lot more than £100 million

We may never know the true cost of the BBC’s latest disaster – but it’ll be a lot more than £100 million by Willard Foxton

Last Friday, the BBC scrapped a huge technology project – the so-called Digital Media Initiative (DMI). The BBC admitted it had wasted £100 million worth of licence payers’ money on a system that has never worked. Profuse apologies have appeared, investigations have been ordered. There was predictable outrage from many quarters at this titanic waste of money, not least from James Delingpole in these pages. However shocking it may seem, admitting a £100 million loss is the BBC’s attempt at damage control.  I’ve spent the past few days talking to BBC insiders, to try to work out how this tech project that was supposed to transform the BBC went wrong

DMI was supposed to enable the BBC to make better use of the film and radio it creates. The intention was to put the entire BBC archive – 52 petabytes of recordings, everything from wartime radio broadcasts to yesterday’s BBC News – on every staffer’s desktop. When the project was launched, it was estimated that DMI could save 2.5 per cent in TV production costs, allegedly worth £100m to the BBC by 2015. “The estimate of a 2.5 per cent cost saving on all productions was pathetically optimistic. It was based on some kind of Deloitte time and motion study, I believe,” said a source. “They never talked to anyone at the sharp end about what we wanted, just decided that all those seconds of changing tapes added up.” Of course, that time-saving, and thus cost-saving, would only accrue if DMI worked – but it didn’t. A system designed to shave a fraction off the costs of production ended up costing a fortune.

Source: Daily Telegraph

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