Organizational Transformation at the BBC


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Case Details:

Case Code : BSTR231
Case Length : 25 Pages
Period : 1992-2006
Organization : BBC
Pub Date : 2006
Teaching Note : Available
Countries : Britain
Industry : Media and Broadcasting

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Please note:

This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

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Thompson makes his mark contd...

They predicted that the journey further down the road would in no way be an easy one for him. However, analysts were confident about Thompson's capability to solve at least some of BBC's problems. Tessa Jowell (Jowell), Secretary of State for Culture, Media, and Sport, believed that Thompson was the right man for the post under such circumstances. Jane Root, Former Controller of the BBC-owned BBC2, said, "He thinks very strategically about the big issues in television, and that is more than anything what the BBC needs its new director general to do. There is going to be an incredible amount of turbulence in television in the next few years; Mark was always a big-range thinker who didn't just think about the here and now."5

Background Note

The BBC was created on October 18, 1922, as the British Broadcasting Company, by a group of wireless manufacturers including Guglielmo Marconi (Marconi), inventor of the radio.

Regular broadcasting began from Marconi's London studio on November 14, 1922. The company's mission was 'to inform, educate, and entertain'. In 1927, the company's name was changed to the British Broadcasting Corporation and it was granted a Royal Charter, which put it under the control of the UK government. The Charter defined the BBC's objectives, powers, and obligations. The BBC was operated through a 12-member Board of Governors, who acted as trustees and ensured that the organization was accountable for its work to the public while maintaining its independence in reporting news. The day-to-day operations were managed by an Executive Board, which consisted of nine members and was led by a Director General.

The BBC, which had no competitor at that time, gained revenues only through a license fee (10 shillings), set by the British parliament and paid for by radio owners. It was not allowed to indulge in commercial activities such as advertising. In 1932, the BBC began broadcasts (BBC Empire Service) outside Britain for the English-speaking people under the then British Empire.

After starting experimental broadcasts in 1932, the BBC officially started television services in November 1936, under the name BBC Television Service. It also issued 8.5 million radio licenses covering around 98 percent of Britain's population.

However, during the Second World War, television broadcasts were suspended for security reasons and these recommenced only in 1946. Though television services were suspended during the War, the BBC continued with its radio broadcasts.

The corporation earned a reputation for honest and accurate news reporting and its 9 o'clock news became very popular.

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5] "Grade Gets His Man as BBC Ends Months of Turmoil," www.media.guardian.co.uk, May 22, 2004.

 

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