(From another article:)
MPs on the Commons public accounts committee (PAC) said the BBC and its former director general, Mark Thompson, gave evidence to parliament in 2011 that "just wasn't true".Here's an excerpt from Hewlett's piece:
The loss by the BBC of close to £100m of licence payers' cash on account of its ill-fated "Digital Media Initiative" (DMI) has so far been somewhat under-reported – as BBC scandals go, that is. But the loss of what roughly amounts to Radio 4's annual budget or 100 hours of top-end TV drama or 700,000 licence fees has implications that could extend well beyond the current embarrassment of the Trust and the Executive occasioned by the abandonment of the flagship project.Read the full article here.
Of course the BBC is not the only big organisation to have lost a fortune – not to mention a decent topping of public credibility -because of a big failed IT project. But when you look back at the course of events surrounding DMI, lots of very serious – and, in the runup to a new Royal Charter, politically significant – questions arise.
The BBC has been in a long-running battle with the National Audit Office (NAO) fearing, rightly, a potential threat to the BBC's independence bordering on direct political interference via the back door. It's all very well for the NAO to scrutinise the BBC's books to ensure efficiency and good stewardship. But when financial and editorial matters become entwined – which in the BBC's case they do most of the time – the NAO's view of good public value, and more troubling still those of the body to which the NAO reports, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the House of Commons, brings that threat of political interference to life.
The problem with the collapse of DMI is that it looks for all the world like plain bad management compounded by a failure of oversight by the BBC Trust, and as such opens a flank to attack by some on the PAC who want nothing more than to muscle in on the BBC's decision-making processes.