BBC Axes Digital Initiative, Saying It 'Wasted a Huge Amount' of Money

5:09 AM PST 05/24/2013 by Georg Szalai
Luke Macgregor/Reuters

The U.K. public broadcaster says the project to make all production and archive operations fully digital cost $149 million.

The BBC said Friday that it is axing a $149 million (£98.4 million) technology project, which was set to make all production and archive operations fully digital.

A review launched in October found that the so-called Digital Media Initiative wasn't going well enough and that it "was not going to deliver on its stated objectives," the public broadcaster said.

As a result, BBC director general Tony Hall decided to close it with the agreement of the BBC Trust, the broadcaster's governing body.

“The DMI project has wasted a huge amount of license fee payers’ money, and I saw no reason to allow that to continue, which is why I have closed it," Hall said. "I have serious concerns about how we managed this project and the review that has been set up is designed to find out what went wrong and what lessons can be learned."

Started in 2008, the DMI was supposed to transition the BBC to a fully digital way of working. The Guardian recently reported that one BBC historical documentary project had trouble accessing digital archives, causing producers to scramble as they looked for footage on traditional tapes.

The BBC Trust said Friday it has launched an independent review to find out what went wrong and why with the digital initiative.

"Ambitious technology projects like this always carry a risk of failure, it does not mean we should not attempt them, but we have a responsibility to keep them under much greater control than we did here," Hall said.

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com
Twitter: @georgszalai

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