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The BBC has appointed new leadership for its digital and technology functions, succeeding Matthew Postgate who left the corporation earlier this year.
Storm Fagan will join in September as chief product officer, leading the development and delivery of the broadcaster’s audience-facing digital products, including the BBC iPlayer, and the BBC Sounds, BBC News and BBC Sport apps. Reporting to the chief operating officer Leigh Tavaziva, she will “deliver the function’s product delivery strategy as efficiently as possible; driving a high-value audience experience through reducing costs, increasing income and ensuring appropriate investment to maximise return to our customers – the BBC audience”, according to the job advert.
The recruitment came about after BBC’s new director general Tim Davie “set a new BBC priority to create more value from digital, citing the acceleration of these services as essential to [the BBC’s] ambitions to become a digital first organisation”, said the advert.
Fagan is currently chief product officer at online food delivery company Just Eat, where she has worked since 2015. She has some prior media industry experience, having worked at Bath-based publishing company Future for nine years before joining Just Eat.
In her new role, she will lead BBC strategy and development in software and digital products, and be part of a new Digital Leadership Group, working closely with the new chief technology officer, Peter O’Kane, who also reports to Tavaziva. The leadership group is chaired by chief customer officer, Kerris Bright and includes existing senior leaders from technology and editorial divisions, as well as digital service leaders for BBC iPlayer, Sounds, News, and Sport and senior leadership from the BBC's nations and regions.
O’Kane became interim CTO in September 2020 when Postgate’s departure was announced – he remained a BBC employee for a further six months – and his appointment has now been made permanent. He will also oversee the product teams until Fagan starts.
Postgate was on a salary of £317,000 per year as chief technology and product officer, having been CTO until April 2016, when the BBC Digital, Engineering and BBC Worldwide technology teams were combined into one unit. Fagan and O’Kane will be on the BBC’s senior leadership pay band, which means their remuneration is likely to be revealed each year when the BBC publishes its annual report.
Prior to becoming the BBC’s CTO, Postgate was part of the management team that launched the iPlayer and worked with BBC Mobile to build the firm’s mobile services for customers.
Postgate’s appointment as CTO in 2014 filled the role of the former CTO, John Linwood, who was sacked from the position in 2013 over the failed £100m Digital Media Initiative. The project was intended to link digital production tools with a central, digital archive for BBC staff to access throughout the production process.
During ongoing rows about the failure of the IT project, including a Parliamentary inquiry, Linwood consistently defended the technology as “working” and that the BBC had tried to use him as a scapegoat.
Linwood subsequently won a case for unfair dismissal after a tribunal found that the BBC was wrong to sack him.