The BBC has said that it welcomes findings from the National Audit Office (NAO) regarding the creation of BBC Studios and has outlined responses to some of the report’s criticisms.
In short, the NAO determined that the BBC had a clear rationale for creating BBC Studios. While the merger has gotten off to a good start, following the launch of the new BBC Studios in April 2018, “it is still too early to tell if the merger is delivering sustainable value for money as delivering the associated changes in organizational culture takes time,” the report concludes. “BBC Studios still has work to do to align the differing cultures and processes in its production and distribution arms but lacks performance indicators for assessing the extent to which it is achieving this alignment.
“Also, the BBC and BBC Studios cannot easily identify the extent to which the non-financial benefits expected from the merger have been delivered, and the extent to which the merger has impacted on BBC Studios’ financial performance to date,” it continued.
The NAO had recommended that there be a clear plan for closing the cultural gap between the production and distribution arms of BBC Studios. In response, BBC Studios will launch a three-year “culture and engagement plan” early this year to improve the overall experience of working at BBC Studios. “Focused investment and dedicated resource in the areas of inclusion and diversity, the employee experience and learning and development, aims by 2023 to have created a more integrated, collaborative culture, where creativity further flourishes, diverse individuals feel more included and both individual and company performance increases,” it said. “Metrics and actions are in place to address the findings of the BBC Group Staff Survey, and further measures will be introduced so progress can be tracked and the plan can be adjusted and developed as necessary.”
The government body has also suggested that there be a review of the effectiveness of recent improvements to governance over BBC Studios. And in response, the BBC has pledged to continue to keep the governance arrangements under review.
The NAO would also like the BBC to finalize the performance indicators for the regular reporting to the boards of BBC Studios’ non-financial performance in early 2020 as planned while ensuring that this set includes adequate measures to enable Board monitoring of: BBC Studios’ non-financial performance; the size and strength of Studios’ content delivery pipeline; the management of significant risks to its achieving sustainable margins and returns; and Studios’ management of its staff, development of organizational capacity and delivery of cultural change. The BBC said that its Board actively monitors and reviews the overall performance of BBC Studios through a quarterly reporting and challenge process and through consideration of performance at Commercial Holdings Board. Going forward, it said the Commercial Holdings Board will review more detailed non-financial performance metrics alongside financial performance.
The BBC said: “In a time of unprecedented change across the global market, and with continued tough financial challenges, the success of BBC Studios is vital in helping the BBC deliver value for money for the license fee payer as well as distributing and promoting British creativity worldwide.”
The broadcaster continued: “We’re proud of BBC Studios’ global success and its contribution to the BBC and British creative industries. We have confidence in its considerable potential and believe that it will continue to create world-class content and generate returns that boost the BBC’s overall income and enable us to show more of the program and services our audiences love.”