by Mark Chillingworth

BBC technology is being attacked on all fronts

Feb 22, 2010
IT Strategy

Whatever it decides to do, the BBC is accused of being wrong. On the day when CIO publishes its interview with the broadcaster’s new CIO Tiffany Hallthe organisation faces strike action from its outsourced supplier Siemens and just last week newspaper groups complained that by developing iPhone apps it was damaging the market place. Today’s news of strike action, first reported by our sister title ComputerworldUK, is bound to be a challenge for CIO Hall. In this the coldest winter of recent years there has been a touch of the winter of discontent, as the strike actions at Fujitsu and HP have struck the IT sector, and British Airways again braces itself for a cabin crew strike. With hindsight it was probably inevitable that the Beeb would be singled out. Recent months have been awash with claims that the BBC has money to spare. Yet the BBC knows, as do all organisations, that funds are unlikely to grow this year and probably not next, which sadly means cuts have to be made at times. No one is pretending these are not uncomfortable things to do. As to newspaper groups complaining about theBBC developing iPhone apps, well it is just laughable. If the BBC decided to skip a technology iteration then the same mediocre newspapers would sight the BBC as being a haven for middle-managers who are completely out of touch with the way audiences consumer media today, which is increasingly through the Apple phone. As the iPlayer has shown and the original BBC website, the involvement of this national institution gives credibility that ultimately benefits everyone involved with the internet. The real threat to the newspapers and their subscription based broadcasting brethren is their own strategies to downgrade the quality of their product, whilst expecting the British public to continue consuming it. The onus is on the newspapers to produce compelling products, available on the iPhone that will attract consumers, not to banish the BBC to some ghetto.