New Director General Tony Hall has pulled the plug on the BBC’s controversial Digital Media Initiative (DMI), calling the £98.4 million spent to date a huge waste of Licence Fee payers’ money.
Closure followed immediately after an operational review of the five-year project found that DMI was not going to deliver on its stated objectives of moving the BBC’s production and archive operations to a fully integrated, digital way of working. The intended individual components of DMI were new production tools that could be used to create content digitally on a desktop, a store to house the newly created digital content, a database to search BBC archives and a place to store production reports digitally.
Reacting decisively to his first real challenge as DG, Hall not only axed the programme, in agreement with the BBC Trust which has launched an independent review into the fiasco, but also suspended CTO John Linwood.
In an excoriating explanation of his actions, Hall said: “The DMI project has wasted a huge amount of Licence Fee payers’ money and I saw no reason to allow that to continue which is why I have closed it.
"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. 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.”
Dominic Coles, director of operations, added: “It is clear DMI’s ambitions have not been met. The [£98.4 million] cost is so great because much of the software and hardware which has been developed would only have a value if the project was completed and we cannot continue to sanction any additional spending on this initiative … In order to learn lessons from this experience, the BBC Trust has launched a wide ranging independent review to establish just what went wrong. We will also be taking disciplinary action where appropriate.”