NUJ condemns 'shocking' £98m digital media project waste

 

The National Union of Journalists has condemned the BBC for wasting “vast sums of public money on hopeless projects” after it announced it was writing off £98.4 million spent on the Digital Media Initiative.

The DMI was scrapped today after five years, with BBC management admitting that it “struggled to keep pace with new developments”.

In an email to corporation staff, director general Tony Hall said the BBC would be investigating the failure of the project “and will take appropriate action, disciplinary or otherwise”.

He added: “Projects of this scale are not without risk and we are not alone in suffering from problems delivering them. But we have a responsibility to spend licence fee payers money as if it was our own and I’m sorry to say we did not do that her.”

The NUJ criticised the BBC for its “shocking waste of money” just days after management upped a proposed pay deal to staff by just £50 a year.

NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said: “This represents a shocking waste of money. It seems the BBC cannot afford a fair pay rise for staff who create the top quality content that licence fee payers want, but it is able to squander vast sums of public money on hopeless projects like this. It is right that the director general has stopped it in its tracks and no doubt there will be more such decisions as he unearths all of the skeletons lying in BBC cupboards. Tony Hall said he will be taking appropriate action, disciplinary or otherwise, and I hope the executives who are to blame for this are called fully to account.” 

The DMI was designed to make it easier for BBC journalists and programme makers to handle and share audio and video material by using “new digital production tools”.

Initially, the BBC outsourced development of the project to Siemens before bringing it in-house in 2010. The Public Accounts Committee later criticised the outsourcing deal, saying the BBC should be “more vigilant” with licence fee-payers money.

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