back to article BBC Trust: 'LA LA LA I'M NOT LISTENING' to this DMI mega-tech FAIL

The BBC failed to heed warnings given as early as 2010 that its Digital Media Initiative uber-project was vague and getting nowhere - according to the National Audit Office, which published its investigation into the disaster today. Executives at the Beeb's finance committee, its executive committee and the BBC Trust all …

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FAIL

Heads won't roll

Apart from John Linwood's... http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-25886417 and http://www.theguardian.com/media/2014/jan/24/bbc-boss-dmi-project-payoff

This from two years ago is interesting reading: http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbctrust/assets/files/pdf/review_report_research/vfm/digital_media_initiative.pdf

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Anonymous Coward

"Too many staff members' and contractors' jobs depended on DMI continuing, many of them recognised the project had little chance of success however speaking up would impact their careers and livelihood."

As a contractor, I've worked on quite a few projects which wouldn't pass a cost/benefit analysis. Why would I destroy my job just to blow the whistle to managers several layers away? There's no incentive for me to tell the truth about how badly the project is really going - and in many cases the managers don't want to listen anyway.

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You're quite right of course, but if you'd been the person commissioning the thing or responsible for the disastrous planning/purchase/implementation or providing project oversight or one of the Trust members, then you should lose your big fat salary + expenses. And no platinum handshake either.

Good old warm, fuzzy, snuggly "Aunty" Beeb. My backside.

It's amazing just how profligate you can be when you're spaffing Somebody Else's Money, and there's no danger of accountability or consequences.

(See also NHS, civil service, etc.)

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Roo
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"Why would I destroy my job just to blow the whistle to managers several layers away?"

If you know things are going badly and you wilfully hide problems then I think you *should* lose your job or at the very least have a 180 degree attitude adjustment. I don't see how a project can succeed when people are ignoring or hiding problems.

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You're quite right of course, but if you'd been the person commissioning the thing or responsible for the disastrous planning/purchase/implementation or providing project oversight or one of the Trust members, then you should lose your big fat salary + expenses. And no platinum handshake either.

You're quite right. But it's been my experience that incompetents are appointed by other incompetents as part of a culture of incompetence. Removing one risks having that one replaced by someone that knows what they are doing, and such a person would disturb the sleep of the remaining incompetents.

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£100 million would have paid for two and a bit The Voices, or 100+ series of the likes of Rev, The Thick of It and such. So swings and roundabouts I guess.

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Easy come, easy go

> the project was formally cancelled last year at a cost to licence-fee payers of £100m - with nothing to show for it.

And when you get all your budget dropped into your lap, without even having to ask for it, justify what programmes you're going to spend it on, get any kind of outside approval for "pet" projects or be in any doubt that the flow of goodies will ever end - is it any surprise that we get debacles like this? £100 mil? Meh! we get over £3Bn a year, it's no biggie!

If the Beeb had to earn its income: have effort and talent rewarded by more moola and incompetence and indolence punished by a shortfall - with the inevitable belt-tightening that happens in the real world, they would be both incentivised to spend it wisely and have developed the disciplines and processes to ensure that they did so.

As it is, they know that next year they will get the same snowstorm of cash thrust upon them, whether they use it to make world-beating telly (which they do) or blow it on whimsy and inefficient operations (which they also do). Without anyone asking questions (surely the job of the governors - and not just "who'd like another brandy?") and scrutinising their policies, this sort of waste is bound to continue.

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Re: Easy come, easy go

Agreed, the BBC has to earn its money. It should go subscription.

As for the programme quality, can't agree with you. Fact is that much of the drama coming out of the US is superior to BBC content. There's also too much celebrity twaddle and too many shallow documentaries.

I don't listen or watch anything like as much as I did a decade ago and I'm almost at the point where, if the BBC did go subscription, I'd choose not to bother. I resent paying for an organisation that is poorly organised, spends its money unwisely and refuses to be open about its internal operation.

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Terminator

whether they use it to make world-beating telly (which they do)

NO TV licenese here so no interested party but I do look at You Tube now and again. (Almost nothing by the BBC but the occasional news link.)

I can't get over th way Jeremy Paxman rode all over George Galloway after inviting hime to a pary of commentators. (I believe he was included because of a recent success; becaue the BBC has to be apolitical and because someone else did the choosing.) He laid into him harshly and unreasonably then totally ignored the man.

That seems to have become typical BBC by the time I stopped watching TV. There had always been the sort of fencing out of compliants with the standard rebuff letters and all that. But by the end, it had become an alien broadcasting agency with countless minusule agendas and pettinesses. The evident dference shown to Paxman was obviously the reason Jimmy Saville got on so well with it.

I bet the sort of thing in the article is by no means the exceptional scandal that arises now and again. The phrase "type-cast" comes to mind. As for " world-beating telly", I can't think of a programme I would like to watch that isn't either as corny and pointless as soap opera or as sordid and depressing as revelations about a soap opera actor.

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Nobody sacked ?

Not quite

Linwood was er 'let go' wasn't he ?

No bag of swag either or so I read

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Anonymous Coward

"Puzzlingly, the Audit Office did not have access to the Acccenture study in compiling its report."

In my experience, bringing Accenture in is a tickbox exercise done by someone who wants to be able to say they tried to do something when the muck hits the mill. As for the Accenture report, I have visions of a 120 page advert for Accenture solutions to the problem, which the Audit Office did not have access to because it was filed according to it's worth (either lost or deliberately binned.)

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some DMI history

Remember Ashley Highfield speaking in 2007?

The Digital Media Initiative is a behind-the-scenes project that Mr Highfield described as "the most important over the next year to get right", because it underpins the success of the likes of the iPlayer and other digital services.

And that he left BBC to join Microsoft he left BBC for, but not before this agreement was brokered while doing his bit to rubbish the competition.

"In an interview with web design mag .net, Highfield hit back against claims the BBC is too cosy with Microsoft. He said: "We have 17.1 million users of bbc.co.uk in the UK and, as far as our server logs can make out, 5 per cent of those [use Macs] and around 400 to 600 are Linux users."

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WTF?

Re: some DMI history

ISTR an article, probably on El Reg, saying that the statistics of OS types were gathered only at the bbc.co.uk base page and not recorded if the browser entered at a bookmark. This could not possibly lead to skewed reporting, could it?

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Nobody was in charge of the project?

Really? So all the costs were just being signed off by a magic fairy? More like no one admits to being in charge.

Find who signed the purchase orders - they were either responsible or were signing on behalf of those responsible.

In an ideal world, said people would be shown the door with no pay off. Even if they were paid off and named it might go some way to registering the need for accountability.

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Sports PAs at it again?

"By late 2011 Sports production staff in their shiny new Salford offices were buying off-the-shelf systems"

So the sports PAs were being ridiculed in the 1970s/80s by internal staff for being dim, but now they appear to be ahead of the curve. What changed?

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"It was fully buzzword-compliant."

Is therefore the phrase of the day.

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Ooh ooh. me me.

I wrote that in a comment on the this subject back in August. Do I win a prize or something?

"Submitted on Friday 23rd August 2013 15:19 GMT

Not the same thing

Management sticking their fingers in their ears and shouting la la la at the top of their voices is not the same as nobody telling them what's going on.

22 thumbs up"

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BBC waste is comparatively minor...

..."Too many staff members' and contractors' jobs depended on DMI continuing, many of them recognised the project had little chance of success however speaking up would impact their careers and livelihood. Many senior figures had reputations invested in DMI."..

I wonder if anyone can think of any other major world programme about which this might be said?

(Hint - it has something to do with the Climate...)

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Anonymous Coward

You couldn't make this stuff up

Its no great surprise. it just shows the the BBC management structure is not "fit for purpose"

I wish I didn't need to pay these idiots a license fee they don't deserve it. The really have no idea in the slightest. It is indicative of the hand waving management style that is far too previlent in companies.

As for the incentive someone suggested to "whistle blowing"/"telling the truth"/"identify short comings". I would suggest the incentive is your professional pride, personal values and personal/professional reputation. If managers don't want to listen thats their failing. I would suggest its a requirement of someones professionalism to do the right thing and say something is wrong in a recordable manner.

If I get a tirade of critisism for this approach I suggest managers and HR depts take note and address their contractor hiring process appropreately. As it would be obvious they need to think about who they hire.

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Fully Buzzword Compliant

...And no onecwas really in charge that's convenient because no will be fired.

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"Without the ability to drill down through the corporation's own material"

I'm sorry, what was that you said ? Are you trying to tell me that, at a time where a foreign spy agency has been revealed to have access to everything on the Net wherever it is, you're telling me that a sovereign government does not have the means to drill into documents that belong to an entity that is directly under its responsibility and purview ?

How exactly is that possible ?

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Its interesting that no one points out..

...that this is so not limited to the BBC. Government pulls this shit on a weekly basis. Projects go utterly tits up every day. The difference is that there is some semblance of accountability in this publicly funded organisation, and so you are reading about it here.

Problem is that human beings are really rubbish. The are incompetent, stupid, selfish, evil little liars. All of them. Really. Go outside and do a survey and you'll quickly notice.

So don't expect anything better than that and you won't be disappointed.

</rant>

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