BBC Engineering restructures to support flexible media needs, says CTO Matthew Postgate

The BBC's technology department, BBC Engineering, will restructure to more effectively provision TV, radio and news, says CTO Matthew Postgate

The BBC’s technology department, BBC Engineering, will restructure to more effectively provision TV, radio and news, said the department’s CTO Matthew Postgate.

Postgate announced in a blog post that the BBC Engineering department – which provides technology services for the broadcaster such as radio transmission, mixing desks, email systems and cameras – will adopt a structure to promote partnership between BBC departments and better promote innovation.

“Because of this tremendous pace of change, our foundations need to become more flexible than we've ever needed them in the past,” Postgate said.

“It's no use laying the ground work for a factory when, in three years' time, we find we need an apartment block.”

The department will partner with editorial teams to ensure the needs of BBC radio, TV, news, sport and children's content are met through appropriate systems and software.

He said BBC Engineering will be using lessons taken from consumer-facing products and applying them to the BBC studio tools and software to make them more user-friendly.

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BBC changes approach to tech contracts

This approach will mean changing the way contracts are procured for core technology systems – from long, large contracts to smaller, shorter contracts with a combination of specialist suppliers.

“Large and long-term technology contracts were commonplace and had their benefits when we signed ours 10 years ago. But, again, the pace of change means this is isn't an appropriate model for the BBC today,” said Postgate.

“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.”

Digital technologies change broadcasting

As many also believe, the future will revolve around digital technologies driving forward innovation, said Postgate.

“The digital world is changing broadcasting fast and the technology making it all possible is, essentially, the internet,” he claimed.

It is hoped the changes to BBC Engineering’s structure and procurement, as well as greater use of internet technologies, will help lay the foundations for innovation and transformation for the broadcaster.

The BBC underwent a substantial digital transformation in the run-up to the Olympics, using agile development to cut costs and consolidate its digital offering. Postgate said the firm had saved £1.1bn since 2007.

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