BBC - Quality, Creativity and Customer Satisfaction
About the BBC (British Broadcasting
Founded in 1921 as a privately owned radio station, it became the BBC we know today in 1927.
It is owned by the British government but independently run by:
- its management (led by the Director General, Tony Hall, pictured right).
- the BBC Trust (chaired by Rona Fairhead),
The BBC Trust makes sure that the BBC achieves its purpose to inform, educate and
entertain (principles introduced by its first Director General, John Reith).
Its TV channels and radio stations can’t advertise, so it is funded by TV licence
payers. It had a monopoly in radio broadcasting until 1972 and in television until the launch of ITV
(funded by advertising) in 1955.
As a public service broadcaster, it has always prioritized the quality of
Key events in the BBC's history
BBC founded as a privately owned radio station with John
Reith (pictured right) as its general manager.
First edition of the Radio Times, the BBC's programmes
BBC founded as we know it today (as a government owned but independent
John Reith appointed as the BBC's first Director
General who made its mission to:
'inform, educate and entertain'
Opening of Broadcasting House, from which the BBC broadcasted its
Launch of BBC World Service.
King George V gives the first royal Christmas broadcast (pictured
right giving his 1934 broadcast).
Launch of BBC television (the world's first regular
hi-definition television service)
First edition of the long running BBC radio soap opera, The
BBC television's live broadcast of Queen Elizabeth II's
coronation (pictured right in the official portrait).
Opening of the BBC Television Centre.
BBC's play, Cathy Come Home, highlights the problem of
Lauch of BBC radio's pop station, Radio 1.
Launch of colour television.
British comedy duo, Morecambe and Wise's (pictured right) first
Christmas show (the 1977 show was the most popular British comedy programme ever with 28 million
Jacob Bronowski's TV history of science, The Ascent of
David Attenborough's (pictured right) natural history TV programme,
Life On Earth.
First episode of BBC television's soap opera, Eastenders (the
1986 Christmas Day episode is the most popular British TV programme ever with 30 million viewers).
Launch of the BBC's website, bbc.co.uk.
Launch of BBC 4, the factual channel
Hutton Inquiry criticizes the BBC's reporting of the Iraq War
leading to the resignation of the Director General, Greg Dyke.
BBC criticized for covering up sex abuse by its former TV and radio presenter,
Jimmy Savile (pictured right in 1964 presenting Top of the Pops).
BBC also wrongly accuses of Lord McAlpine of child abuse leading to the resignation of George
Entwhistle (Director General for only 54 days)
John (later Lord) Reith, first Director General
Tony Hall, Director General since 2013.
Rona Fairhead, Chairman of the BBC Trust since 2014 (pictured right).
The BBC will live or die by the quality of its programmes and content,
- Mark Thompson Director General 2004 - 2012 (pictured right).
Value for money is what matters – not to be the cheapest, but the most efficient for the quality we are trying
- Tony Hall, Director General.
We can actually afford the BBC because we can’t afford not to.
- Stephen Fry, English broadcaster and writer (pictured right).
If you've got 10 people sitting on your shoulder you can't be good, you can't be creative.
- Ken Loach, TV drama director, pictured right (talking about managers stifling
If you want organizations to change, you have to carry the staff with you.
- Greg Dyke (speaking in 2000 as Director General).
You have to love an organization in order to reform it.
- John Tusa, ex-boss of the BBC World Service (pictured right).
What affects quality at the BBC?
The BBC’s mission is
“to enrich people’s lives with programmes and services that inform, educate and
Its Royal Charter sets out six “public purposes” to achieve this mission:
a) sustaining citizenship and civil society
(i.e. promoting responsible citizenship).
b) promoting education and learning
c) stimulating creativity and cultural excellence
(particularly in the arts).
d) representing the UK, its nations (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland), regions and
So programme production is being transferred away from London.
For example, these have moved to Salford (near Manchester) from London:
- Radio 5 Live.
e) bringing the UK to the world and the world to the UK
So the BBC’s motto is
“nation shall speak peace unto nation”
The BBC World Service (its global, multi-language radio broadcasting service) is vital to
achieving this aim.
f) delivering to the public the benefit of emerging communications technologies and
(e.g. the Internet).
To achieve these aims, the BBC’s 2009 strategy review (called Putting Quality First) identified
- the best journalism in the world.
- inspiring content that brings knowledge, music and culture to life.
- ambitious UK drama and comedy.
- outstanding children's content.
- events that bring communities and the nation together.
These non-commercial aims make the BBC a public service broadcaster.
Because different people value different things, its main problem is finding the right balance between
Popular programmes must be made to justify everyone paying the licence fee (see point
2. Customer satisfaction
To satisfy its customers, the BBC must:
a) inform with integrity
The BBC’s reputation has been built on the highest ethical and professional standards, so that
people worldwide trust its
- impartiality (controversial because it is sometimes accused of left wing bias).
Its Charter says it should be
“free from both political and commercial influence and answers only to its viewers and
Greg Dyke (pictured right) had to resign as Director General in 2004 after the Hutton
Inquiry that resulted from a BBC journalist’s controversial claim that the government’s arguments for
the Iraq War had been falsely exaggerated.
b) delivering value to all audiences
The BBC isn’t so popular with:
- people in Scotland and the north of England .
It has to embrace these groups, or it will be damagingly portrayed as serving only a white middle
Its pop radio station, Radio 1 is aimed at young people
Its local radio and TV services are tailored to the needs of
c) quality with distinctiveness
The BBC has a worldwide reputation for:
- natural history programmes.
But these are expensive to produce and often have limited appeal.
So it must also provide popular entertainment shows like Strictly Come Dancing - Dancing
With the Stars in America.
But quality programmes can be very popular such as:
- Doctor Who.
- Pride and Prejudice (starring Colin Firth, pictured right).
- Radio 4 (its news, factual, comedy and drama station, which is particularly well
respected and listened to by around 10 million people).
d) online, digital and satellite broadcasting
The BBC invests heavily in:
Hugely popular are its
- iPlayer (its programme viewing service).
- radio programme downloads.
In 2008 it also launched a subscription free satellite broadcasting service, Freesat, in
partnership with ITV (Britain’s commercial TV channel).
3. Corporate culture (shared values and beliefs)
Greg Dyke, when he was Director General (2000-2004), asked BBC employees what values the BBC
These six values (including quality) are still supported by everyone at the BBC and will
continue to be vital to its future success:
is the foundation of the BBC: we are independent, impartial and honest.
are the heart of everything we do.
c) We take pride...
in delivering quality and value for money.
is the lifeblood of our organization (see point 4).
e) we respect...
each other and celebrate our diversity so that everyone can give their best.
f) we are one BBC...
great things happen when we work together.
A staff survey in 2010 revealed that 45% of employees believed that managers’
actions weren’t consistent with these values
This inconsistency wasn't helped by the fact that 38% thought that top
managers didn’t communicate their strategies well enough.
Employee creativity is the BBC’s key core competency that gives it the edge over its
So its vision is “to be the most creative organization in the world”.
Creativity (and so programme quality) is increased by:
- freedom from meddlesome management (a big problem at the committee run BBC).
- availability of resources (particularly money).
- employee consultation (which is sometimes poor, particularly over redundancies).
- the free exchange of information and ideas among the programme making team (producer,
director, set and costume designers, journalists etc.).
- job security (continuous redundancies in recent years have lowered employee morale
Creativity was hit in the 1990’s by the Director General, John Birt’s obsession with:
- cost cutting and efficiency (enforced by greater management
controls and the use of management consultants).
- the introduction of short-term contracts.
5. Money for quality programmes
There is widespread criticism of the BBC for diverting money away from programme making by over paying its top
In 2011 382 executives were paid more than £100,000 a year
In 2014, Tony Hall, the Director General, put a cap on managers' severance payments after the deputy director
general Mark Byford received £949,000 when he left in 2011.
Huge salaries are paid to star presenters (for example, Jeremy Clarkson, pictured right, the
ex-presenter of Top Gear, the car programme, was paid £1 million a year).
The BBC has also spread its limited resources too thinly.
Since 2010, it has closed services like BBC Switch and BBC
Blast (for teenagers).
In 2014, Tony Hall, the Director General, announced that BBC3 will also be closed as an
on-air channel and remain only online.