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BBC targets £90m saving and a 'digital future'

The BBC has revealed it intends to make changes to the way it procures and manages its largest strategic technology contracts to save £90 million over the next two years.

According to a blog post by the organisation’s CTO Matthew Postgate, the broadcaster has already saved £1.1 billion of savings since 2007 by taking a more “innovative approach” that allows it to do more with less.

The BBC is taking a look are its core infrastructure, services and equipment that it relies on daily in its studios and offices and taking steps to move away from single, long term contracts with just one supplier.

Instead, it is moving to multiple shorter term contacts with a number of specialist companies and Postgate claims that further savings will be achieved once this transition is complete.

The approach is similar to that taken by the coalition government, which has committed to breaking up the “oligopoly” of large IT suppliers that have traditionally served Whitehall while decreasing chances for SMEs to do public sector business.

“Large and long-term technology contracts were common place and had their benefits when we signed ours ten years ago,” claims Postgate.

“But, again, the change of pace means that this isn’t an appropriate model for the BBC today. Now we need to be more flexible, get quicker access to new technology as it emerges and ensure we get the best possible value for licence fee payers,” he adds.

The digital future of the BBC

Furthermore, the BBC claims to be looking towards a “digital future” where it uses the latest digital technologies to its advantage.

According to Postgate, the digital world is changing broadcasting and the technology behind it all is the Internet.

He claims digital is changing the way people watch and listen to programmes, as well as the way programmes are made.

“We will increasingly use the Internet to deliver programmes and services to you in the future – whether that’s to the big screen in the living room or the smartphones and tablets scattered over the house,” the CTO claims.

“This opens the door to entirely new forms of content that are much more data intensive than audio or video – things like Ultra-HD or virtual reality for example.

“I’m not saying these technologies will take of overnight or that they’ll take off at all for that matter and traditional broadcast will continue to be critically important for many years,” he adds.

BBC will not be online only

Shortly after publication, Postgate came back to his blog post to make an additional point to reassure those becoming worried about the ways the BBC is changing.

“When we talk about taking advantage of Internet technologies or being ‘Internet first’ we aren’t talking about the BBC doing more with online content or only putting content and programmes online,” he claims.

“My role is to make sure that the BBC’s technologies that underpin everything we do – from our newsroom infrastructure and new in-the-field production and editing tools, to how be keep the BBC on air and online – are set up in the best possible way and take advantage of new Internet-based technologies.

“This is what will give the organisation the flexibility it will need to evolve to meet people’s expectations now and in the future,” he adds.