BBC technology chief suspended over £100m failed digital project

The BBC has suspended its Chief Technology Officer, John Linwood, after deciding to abandon a £98 million digital project.

BBC chief Tony Hall said that the organisation had “wasted a huge amount of licence fee payers’ money” and that an independent review has been set up to find out what went wrong.

The project, dubbed the Digital Media Initiative, saw the BBC attempt to create a digital production system that was aimed at transforming the way staff developed, used and shared video and audio content.

Set up in 2008, the Digital Media Initiative was eventually halted in autumn last year after the BBC Trust expressed concerns about the project and launched an internal review.

“I have serious concerns about how we managed this project,” said Lord Hall, director general of the BBC.

“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.”

The BBC Trust said that the initiative had been badly managed and outpaced by the change in technology.

The BBC Trust’s Anthony Fry wrote to Margaret Hodge, chair of the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee, and said that the project had generated “little or no assets”.

“It is of utmost concern to us that a project which had already failed to deliver value for money in its early stages has now spent so much more of licence fee payers’ money,” he said.

“We intend to act quickly to ensure that there can be no repeat of a failure on this scale.”

The BBC told Computerworld UK that CTO John Linwood would be suspended whilst the investigation into the project is carried out.

Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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