The BBC has radically restructured its Future Media and Technology division, creating a powerful new director, digital media post and seeing the departures of Nic Newman and Seetha Kumar.
Newman, controller of journalism and digital distribution, will leave the BBC on Thursday (1 April) to “pursue new opportunities” whilst Kumar, controller of BBC Online, will take up a new role after the division has nailed down its three-year strategy.The corporation has not yet decided whether to replace her or close the post altogether..
Meanwhile, Huggers has also secured extra clout for the division with the creation of a new Online Directional Group (ODG), which replaces the online board and has been “elevated” to become a sub-committee of the main executive board.
He will chair it and Kumar, head of FM&T strategy and director of FM&T finance will be members, alongside BBC North chief operating officer Richard Deverell, Radio 1 controller Andy Parfitt, director of archive content Roly Keating, director of BBC Scotland Ken MacQuarrie and James Holden, who is acting for director of MC&A Audiences, Helen Normoyle.
More appointments expected
The director of digital media has yet to be appointed but will report directly to FM&T director Erik Huggers, alongside eight other digital directors, and will oversee five new senior general managers.
Mark Kotekaas will oversee back-end platforms and services as general manager, online technology group; Phil Fearnley will become general manager of news and Knowledge; Rahul Chakkara will be responsible for children’s, sport and applications; and Marcelo Marer will oversee user experience and design.
The post of general manager of on-demand is still vacant and will be responsible for developing the iPlayer and building new online products for things like the BBC archive, TV channels, radio. This will effectively replace Anthony Rose who has moved across to Canvas.
Huggers told staff today that the changes are “just the first step in a review of BBC Online” which is designed to “determine ownership and accountability for a smaller number of more integrated categories and products across the site – a process which is ongoing”.
As reported by Broadcastnow.co.uk on Friday, the announcement was delayed by a series of internal rows.
Insiders were shocked by the departure of Newman ahead of a general election and pointed out that he was one of the only senior figures to openly criticise Putting Quality First proposals to cut the BBC’s online spend by 25%.
They also complained that Huggers is trying to push through the proposal, which helped to write, before it is cemented by the BBC Trust and that F&T is acting too independently of the rest of the BBC.
The new structure
Director, digital media
Chief operating officer
Chief technology officer
Head of strategy
Director of finance
Reports to Digital Media director
GM, online technology group
GM, news and knowledge
GM, children’s sport and applications
GM, user experience and design