Back to Speech

New Places, Faces and Voices: Finding and training the best people for Public Service Media

13 October 2014
New Places, Faces and Voices: Finding and training the best people for Public Service Media

Hello everyone. Thank you for inviting me to speak this morning.

This Assembly is an important part of Europe’s media landscape and it’s a privilege to be with people who, like me, passionately believe in public service media in this new world order.

You love it, you fight for it, you wake up worrying about it and you spend your life trying to make it brilliant and relevant. So, I’m in very good company. In May this year I took up a new role as Director of BBC England. I lead creativity, collaboration and local partnerships across the BBC’s major creative centres outside of London in England - in Salford, (which is just outside Manchester, about 200 miles north of London), and Birmingham and Bristol. Before that I led the building of the BBC’s newest state of the art media centre at MediaCityUK in Salford, and oversaw the biggest move outside of London in the BBC’s history – hundreds of roles transferred from London and other parts of the UK to the North of England, and recruiting hundreds more new people to the BBC – as we built a more open, more accessible BBC.

A BBC fit for a digital future - in the age of the internet - a future that’s already here. The move though was only partly about geography and buildings - it was mainly about a fresh creative philosophy - as I want to explain. I now also lead the BBC Academy – the UK media sector's biggest skills trainer. I’ve undertaken many roles – and some big challenges - during my 30 plus years in the business, from news and sport, from children's programmes to natural history to being a channel controller, but today, I see my Academy responsibility as one of the most important. And central to the creativity mission I am leading too. Because it’s fairly simple - and very urgent. If we are to survive, then the right people, with the right skills, doing the right jobs must be at the heart of everything we do. And to do that effectively, they need the right training underpinning the right philosophy- wherever they are based. I don’t need to tell you that the media world is changing - locally, nationally and globally. And very fast.

Population demographics, politics and economics are all shifting before our European eyes – and wherever we live, from the tip of Scotland to the shores of the Bosphorus - the changes in audiences and audience behaviours are breath-taking and very challenging. In Britain, the change is very significant – with increased ethnic diversity, great disparities in wealth, a distrust of national institutions. There’s a bigger, healthier elderly population than ever with access to wealth and services that a growing, younger generation can only envy. And the very notion of Britishness itself is being challenged– as we saw with the recent Scottish referendum. And of course media competition and new and emerging technologies have led to enormous change: Just look at Facebook. In 2004 Facebook had one million monthly users. Fast forward to 2013 and Facebook boasted 1.23 billion monthly active users worldwide. At the end of last year an amazing 757 million people logged on to Facebook -daily.

Twitter has 271 million monthly active users and 500 million Tweets are sent per day. Google now processes over 40,000 search queries every second, which translates to over 3.5 billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches per year worldwide. Mind-boggling stuff. And a staggering 1.8 billion photos are shared daily via What’s App, Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook and Flickr. And they’re just some of the giant media companies we know about. No doubt new ones are just about to emerge too. What impact will they have on our industry? And then there’s the platforms. There will be 40 million active tablet users in the UK alone by 2017, and there are already 130 mainstream TV apps on the market in Britain so you can watch your favourite channels on the go that way too.

We all know teenagers who would rather watch YouTube or what’s happening on Instagram than the most lovingly written, acted and produced TV drama. My own kids rarely watch tv without having two or three media devices open at the same time. And if things aren’t acted upon or responded to in their world quickly enough you can go from ‘cool’ to ‘uncool’ in minutes. Remember Ellen De Generes’ Oscar selfie? Over 32million people viewed the tweet in the 12 hours after it was posted and it is the most popular tweet ever. It spawned copycat tweets all over the world  and the social media buzz was huge back in March – but try it again just a couple of weeks after the Oscars and it is simply not the ‘done thing’ - you have missed the boat and the world has moved on.

The Ice Bucket Challenge, in support of the ALS charity, was just the same. Reaching and engaging with our audiences has never been more challenging or exciting than it is now. Our ‘Always On’ society is spoilt for content choice. There is what we in the UK call a ‘pick and mix’ approach to content. It’s not easy to compete in this new world, with its plethora of platforms, its huge range of choice, its commercial imperatives, while delivering quality, relevant content and staying true to our Public Service mission. We have to make sure that the content we create, the way we deliver it, and the way we relate to our audiences stands out - is unique, compelling and indispensable. And the key to that is innovation – in ideas, in programmes, and in technology. T

here has never been a more urgent need to innovate, while keeping our commitment to distinctiveness and demonstrating our value – to the community, to politicians, to business, and ultimately-for the BBC- to the licence fee payer. Everyone in the UK pays for the licence fee and we have to show them we’re relevant, and to do that, we have to reflect the audiences who are watching and listening to our programmes, using our websites or whatever platforms they choose. As well as great programmes, many of our audience now want - and expect - a two way conversation with us and they demand answers and information from us (and everyone else around them) with the same immediacy they get from the social media platforms they now use day in day out. This year's Eurovision Song Contest was a perfect example of the trend, as it happens. One of our own. These are just a few examples of the change we’re facing. We can’t stand by and watch that change. We must be part of it. Where we can, we must lead it. We must try to get ahead of it. Change is our new way of life.

And one question for those of us here today is how can training and development help us manage and respond to that global change? How can it stop us becoming obsolete and irrelevant in Europe with our older and often more traditional public service models? When it comes to change and innovation we have our own challenges: How do we digitally revolutionise training delivery to keep up with new technology? How do we realise cost savings when we have increasingly constrained budgets to begin with? We all know, that when money gets tight, training budgets are often one of the first things affected. So we need to really prove our case. The challenge is enormous. Do we have the answers? Not sure anyone has them all. But what I do know is that new skills are required to meet this challenge. We can’t rely on the traditional routes, on old models, based on old assumptions.

Both the EBU and the BBC are rightly seen as leaders in innovation in training. We’re in this together and the world’s broadcasters are looking to us for some clues and answers too. The future is happening now, so we must try and understand our audience’s fast-changing needs, make sure we have the right people in our organisations – from all backgrounds and from all parts of the countries we broadcast in - to respond and design and deliver new training to equip them to do the job. As I say, I don’t have all the answers by any means. But I do want to share some examples of what the BBC is doing to try and address these challenges. I’ve grouped them under 3 headings: ? new places ? new faces, and ? new voices.

The BBC is unlocking the power of working in New Places like Salford, my new base; seeking out New Faces with our apprentice, diversity, and ambassador’s programmes; and finally listening to New Voices, especially in our journalism. In my opinion, one of the best way to get new perspectives, strike up new partnerships, new relationships and establish new ways of working, is to move to A New Place. In the spring of 2011, over the course of 36 weeks, hundreds of BBC staff – many with their families – moved from London, and some from our old Manchester base, to MediaCityUK in Salford. Every Monday morning a new wave of people moved in and started work immediately, having been at their old desks the Friday before.

And the move ended when BBC Breakfast went live to the UK from MediaCity just after Easter in 2012. We are now the BBC’s second biggest creative hub; the biggest news centre outside London; home to six of the BBC’s ten online products, and to some of the biggest BBC brands - including BBC Sport, BBC Children’s, Radio 5 live, the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, key entertainment titles - like The Voice and Dragons Den - and Radio 6 Music. In total there are twenty-four BBC departments represented at MediaCity, and about 3,000 staff. Approximately a third moved from London; a third already based in Manchester and we have recruited another 1000 new people – about a half from the North West, and the rest from across the UK: the biggest recruitment drive in the Corporation’s history. And, we are continuing to grow -with around 250 jobs moving to BBC North in 2015.

Our buildings are equipped with the latest state-of-the-art digital technology, which our staff use to make programmes and content for television, radio, online and mobile. The training to use this equipment was in itself staggering – in our first year we delivered 4,500 days of training, via the BBC Academy. And our R&D colleagues there are developing the next generation of technology to ensure that audiences can enjoy the BBC, however they access it. Our 24/7 operation reaches over 100 million people each week. So why did we make the move to Salford? And why have broadcasters and technology companies from Dubai to Malaysia, Denmark to Canada, Belgium to Australia been to see us to see what’s fresh and new about our model in the past three years? It's true - the further North you go in the UK, the less audiences love the BBC. It mirrors the national political divide somewhat and means the job of pleasing our new neighbours called for a fresh approach.

We had four main corporate objectives: to better serve audiences in the North, deliver benefits to the region by creating a world class media talent pool, deliver a creative dividend for the region by increasing the quality of our programmes and services for all our audiences and realise tangible financial benefits for the BBC outside the over-heating London economy. We also set out to change ourselves. Become more open to each other and to the public. To collaborate and share. To be flexible and digital. Though the north move was a physical one, we wanted it to represent cultural and technological change too. It's no good being open plan if you don't have open minds; and its no good trying to engage with hard to reach audiences if you don't engage with your colleagues. As it happens we have increased investment in content creation in the North of England, harnessing the creative community in the North – writers, producers, actors, and crews. People with new voices who are telling new stories in new ways, appealing to audiences – reaching new people - right across the country. BBC North is forging a closer and more direct relationship with audiences and partners across the region via a coordinated series of activities with local communities and businesses, and mass audience participation events.

In the past two years nearly 155,000 members of the audience have had the chance to come to an event or watch a show at MediaCityUK, with a further 133,000 getting the chance to actually attend one of our broadcast events across the region, such as The Preston Passion, Bollywood Carmen Live in Bradford or CBBC in Newcastle. It’s a strategy of active engagement not ivory tower commissioning - on behalf of the whole BBC. As a result we are beginning to see a slow but steady reversal in the decline in audience appreciation in the North, and we are starting to nudge it upwards. What used to be 3-4% difference between North and South is now more like 1-2%. If you are planning a big relocation I won’t pretend it’s not hard work - but the rewards will outweigh everything else. We were very fortunate when setting up BBC North. The new mix of staff meant we could change the DNA of the organisation – with fresh faces, and fresh voices. That the silos between technology and content makers could be demolished, that we could be born digital into a world that wasn't interested in our departmental structures just our output.

I’m very proud of the staff who helped make this all happen, and if something works well – do it again. So we embarked on Project England. That's the name of another big project to bring the same focus we have at BBC North - getting closer to audiences, delivering benefits to a region, making financial efficiencies, and creating content for a digital BBC - to England’s other major centres – Birmingham and Bristol. So, next year BBC Birmingham will become the BBC’s new centre of excellence for skills, recruitment and talent development for the whole UK. The BBC Academy, vital skills training for staff and the wider industry, plus the core of our Human Resources and Internal Communications, will move to Birmingham’s Mailbox building. The move will also include the BBC’s Diversity Unit who will work closely with our Outreach and Corporate responsibility team to get us closer to new audiences.

A new Digital Innovation Unit – our Digital Guerrillas - will start in 2015 – in the heart of the city’s creative quarter. And the BBC Academy’s entry-level talent including our apprenticeships (that’s 170 by the end of the Charter period) and traineeships will be run from Birmingham, England's second largest city. It's two hundred new jobs for Birmingham and the BBC - a chance to reinvent ourselves, our output and our audiences. As I said earlier, we also have to innovate with our training and this move will help us think differently about tackling the challenges ahead. Like the BBC North's Salford move it can be philosophical change as well as geographical. NEW FACES That brings me to our New Faces.

We need to make sure that the people working with us reflect the audiences we aim to serve. If we all look and feel the same, share the same outlooks and perspectives, how can we tell the range of stories we need to reach people in all sections of society? Recruiting staff from different backgrounds, educational achievements and outlooks can both enrich and strengthen the whole BBC team. There is no reason why the young people we recruit can’t become our industry’s future leaders. After all they are also joining us in Birmingham, also the youngest, most diverse city in Europe - a place that looks like our collective future. I well remember an 18 year-old BBC recruit from Salford telling me that she never ever thought that someone in her family would wear a BBC ID badge. After a very successful pilot programme recruiting BBC apprentices in Salford, where we offered 16-19 year olds with few or no qualifications a minimum of 6-month salaried placements - last year the BBC Director General Tony Hall 19 committed the whole BBC to ensuring that 1% of our workforce is apprentices by the end of the Charter period at the end of 2016. However, on top of that our BBC core business isn’t changing fast enough, so the Director General has also committed us to a range of new action points on diversity - to radically change representation on air, and to make the BBC a top employer for people with disabilities. We are establishing a new £2m Diversity Talent Fund and we are taking on 20 new Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME) graduate trainee interns. Just this week we launched two ambitious new leadership schemes to encourage better on and off-screen representation of Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities in broadcasting with six talented people from BAME backgrounds being sought to join the BBC’s ‘Senior Leadership Development Programme’, to get experience right at the very TOP of the BBC. Finally, a new ‘Assistant Commissioner Development Programme’ is seeking six potential ‘Commissioners of the Future’ in entertainment, comedy, factual, daytime, children’s programming and across BBC Two and BBC Four.

Our aim is to increase on-air BAME portrayal from 10.4% to 15% by 2017 and BAME senior level staff to increase from 8.3% to 10% by 2017 and 15% by 2020. All that plus new measures around Disability that include quadrupling the on-screen representation of disabled people by 2017 and the introduction of a pan-BBC Disability Executive to champion disabled talent and projects. WHY SO MUCH ACTIVITY? We looked at ourselves and knew we needed action not just policies. We needed to get on track on air and behind the scenes. To keep up with the changing face of the UK. Hence these big interventions. There are regional challenges too: In the past, only those who could afford to move to London or bigger regional centres could find entry level opportunities but now we have apprenticeships (and graduate level traineeships) right across the UK.

The BBC has just hired its first ever intake of Local Apprentices – one for every local radio station and nations radio service across the UK - making it the BBC's largest ever single apprenticeships scheme. Providing local opportunities for local talent is a really strong message for us. The first 40 just started with us last week in Birmingham - such energy. Our current crop of schemes outperform the rest of the BBC by a considerable margin in some key areas. For example this year’s TV Production Apprenticeship is 47% BAME and the graduate level Production Traineeship is 42% BAME Watch this short film that tells the story of just a few of those apprentices, as they try out new roles in radio and television.

The key strength of any public service broadcaster is its journalism and the BBC delivers news content that is admired and trusted around the world in these turbulent times. But I mentioned earlier that the challenge facing us is enormous and to deliver training that our target audience would engage with had to break the usual BBC mould. So we are engaging with New Voices from some of the leading digital players like Buzzfeed and Vice, and even recruiting some top practitioners – like the BBC’s new Social Media Editor, who has worked in a range of other media organisations, like the UK’s national newspaper The Independent, AOL, and the Huffington Post This ‘blue skies’ thinking and recruitment was coupled with some core skills like video journalism to enable the shift from radio to online and mobile production. Once fully launched I hope our training will have supported a growth in reach and a positive shift in demographics.

Here’s a clip of a piece from Europe correspondent Matthew Price filmed on his iPhone within days of attending a BBC course. The aerial shots are agency material but I’m sure you’ll agree this is impressive. The BBC also ran Expert Women’s Days, throughout 2013 - where 164 women with specialisms as diverse as architecture, particle physics, finance and law undertake media familiarisation sessions, in radio interviews, TV interviews and “walking and talking” to camera. The BBC like many other broadcasters suffers from a real deficit in these areas. They were also given the opportunity to meet industry experts via networking lunches round table discussions. To date, 74 of the women have clocked up 374 media appearances, either as expert contributors, or in some cases as regular presenters.

Those Expert Womens Days have just claimed the title of ‘Diversity Team of the Year’ at the European Diversity Awards by the way - that makes us very proud. Finally, and separately, our Women in Radio events, providing opportunities for 90 would-be local radio presenters, has helped find new female voices and supported our ambition to have at least 50% of Local Radio breakfast programmes with a woman presenter by the end of this year. It's starting to deliver. One snapshot of BBC editors showed over 40% of our delegates had appeared on air, either as a contributor or presenter and 12% had secured some form of contract as a direct result of contact with the BBC made on the day. Trying to assess what audiences will want, and what technology can deliver is a continuing challenge for us - and it’s changing all the time. As with the EBU who have looked in detail what challenges 2020 will bring, the BBC is spending a lot of time navel gazing as we approach Charter Renewal in 2016 and looking to the years beyond. We’re facing some big questions:

How do we reflect the changing shape of our audiences in our content and products? Do we need to make content and products that appeal to all of this increasingly diverse audience? ? What role does the BBC need to play – as unifier, as reflector, as promoter of social cohesion? In which genres can we realistically remain best in class? Are we able to identify meaningful USPs in each genre? How do you strike the balance between global ambition and serving distinctive PSB goals for audiences? ? How do we maintain a secure supply of world-leading talent and creativity? I’ve already mentioned the importance of fantastic journalism to Public Service media and James Harding, the BBC’s Director of News - himself a powerful

New Voice who came to the BBC from a print background –is working on a future news project called the 4th Revolution. It is looking over the horizon to 2017, 2022 and 2027. Right out there. How will stories and the way we gather and report them change? The BBC wants to be at the forefront of news consumption on mobile and social networks. For instance, BBC Shorts, 15 second videos for social and mobile consumption; the Whatsapp experiment during the Indian elections; look at the terrific BBC Weather app; the fact that @BBCbreaking gets more than the average daily audience of the 10 o’clock news; and that the BBC is now the top Twitter news publisher in the world. We’re getting in better shape to keep moving, adapting and learning as we look out on that news horizon. And in this digital world, simple and clever technology is key.

A few weeks ago we launched the next generation of something called The BBC Blue Room in Salford. The Blue Room is a specialist facility that showcases consumer broadcast and interactive technology, right in the heart of our building, allowing staff to get to grips with new technologies and try out their ideas on platforms before they arrives on the high street. This is crucial when what we are seeking in the rapidly changing digital world is the most inspiring, informative, entertaining and educational content we can create. We need to make sure our staff are up to speed too, to make sure they’re equipped with the digital knowledge and skills they need to create compelling content and interact with audiences in a world where digital technology is ever shifting, leading to new behaviours, and new expectations.

On top of that Next month, we launch the BBC North Digital Season, where we offer all three thousand workers on our site the chance to stay at the forefront of their craft. The Digital Season is a series of training sessions and expert masterclasses designed to address 5 key areas that we have identified as critical for our staff to have today: Digital storytelling, Interacting with audiences, Coding and software, New ways of working in a digital world, Technology - What’s here now, and what’s coming next These courses are offered at introductory and advanced levels – so whether they’re traditional tv producers, or online whizzkids, I expect the majority of our staff at BBC North to attend at least 3 of these classes.

And those classes are complemented with masterclasses including industry experts from Google, FIFA, Facebook, Associated Press, and YouTube, to name just a few. And as a result, we hope to see a step change in our digital capability – in understanding and knowledge, in collaboration between traditional, new and emerging media, and of course, we want to see greater creativity and innovation. We feel this digital step change is so important, that once we’ve rolled it out across BBC North, learned lessons from it, ironed out some of the issues, we’re planning to roll it out across the entire BBC with The Academy in the forefront. That’s once more the value of new places with new philosophies- use them as guinea pigs for the whole organisation. And our digital focus isn’t only internal. Next year, the BBC’s new education initiative ‘Make It Digital’ will reach audiences, especially school students, right across the country - shining a light on the world of digital creativity and coding. We want to show how Britain has already helped shape the digital world and why digital skills matter, and inspire people to find out more, experiment, play, and pursue careers in the digital industries. 30 We will harness the power of the BBC’s biggest shows – we have so many well-loved programmes and characters to play a role introducing people to coding and digital technology.

To summarise, I hope this doesn't just look like it's on the margins of what we do, or nice to have. It's business critical. Underpinned by training and recruitment. We are recruiting diverse, young people because they are the future of Public Service media. They are our audiences, our future content creators and our future media leaders. We need their DNA to enrich ours, an established workforce and leaders, because they understand our challenges -because it’s the world they already live in. We want them - the best people with the right skills, in the right jobs, innovating to create the right content indispensable to audiences – informing, educating, entertaining – and inspiring – in the best traditions of public service media. And they can’t do that without world class training and development.

What that means, and how we provide it, is why we’re here today, and I’m looking forward to exploring that with you. And learning from the sessions at this terrific conference. I hope that I’ve given you a flavour of just some of the BBC initiatives we’re undertaking to make that happen – along with a sense of how we want to put training and development firmly at the heart of those initiatives. The task before us is huge, and I know that across Europe we’re all exploring solutions to the challenges we’re facing. By embracing the new - not being afraid to go to new places, recruit new faces and listen to new voices we will be able to meet that challenge. After all, we really have no alternative.

Relevant links and documents