Outgoing BBC director general Sir John Birt told delegates he had no regrets about his tenure at the helm of the corporation, in a valedictory session at Cambridge on Thursday, writes
Outgoing BBC director general Sir John Birt told delegates he had no regrets about his tenure at the helm of the corporation, in a valedictory session at Cambridge on Thursday, writes Lucy Rouse.

'Running very large organisations is a highly imperfect process,' Birt said in conversation with Investec Henderson Crosthwaite research director Mathew Horsman. 'Nothing ever goes as you would want. I think we did the big things right. I have very few regrets at all.'

Tackled over whether the Broadcast/Production split had been 'logical but unnecessary', Birt told a packed opening session the restructure had been 'extremely successful'. 'Now we have an organisation that's thinking really hard about audiences on the one hand and creativity on the other and seeking to be a bridge between them,' he said.

But he did admit a need for better communication at the BBC. 'In the last 12 months we've been working really hard to develop collaborative arrangements between Broadcast and Production,' Birt said.

Birt also defended the introduction of Producer Choice, but admitted his reforms were 'tough and unpleasant for all concerned. A creative organisation knows how to express its pain,' he said.

Incoming DG Greg Dyke would find greater 'willingness and flexibility to change' than he had found, Birt added.

He also mounted a defence of Peter Salmon's track record at BBC 1. '(He) is not under pressure to deliver ratings. He has to create a beguiling mix of programmes ... and expose people to experiences they wouldn't get on other channels. By that measure (he's) doing very well.'