BBC Transformation Gathers Pace; Digital Childrens Team Restructured With Several Roles To Be Closed

BBC Transformation Gathers Pace; Digital Childrens Team Restructured With Several Roles To Be Closed

06/07/2022

EXCLUSIVE: The BBC’s digital-first transformation/slimdown is gathering pace and the latest team to be affected is the Children’s & Education department’s digital unit, coming a few weeks after the shock announcement that CBBC linear channel will move online.

In an email seen by Deadline, the plainly-named Digital Media, Platforms & Planning (DMP&P) team were delivered a set of proposals yesterday by BBC Children’s boss Patricia Hidalgo, who fired the starting gun on a “formal consultation process,” with the final structure to be set out in December.

The DMP&P team is responsible for delivering short-form content and operating the websites of beloved British linear children’s channels CBBC and CBeebies, which air the likes of Blue Peter, Danger Mouse and Horrible Histories.

A number of roles are proposed to be closed, including an Executive Editor post, several working on CBBC and CBeebies’ websites and the closure of the Labs team, with the exception of one Senior Content Producer role focussing on VoD service BBC iPlayer, according to Hidalgo’s email.

Headcount won’t decrease, Deadline understands, as new roles will be created including a Senior Content Producer in the games team to support education games and, in a possible sign of things to come, “metaverse interactivity,” along with a Graphics and Video Editor.

The move comes a few weeks after the BBC said it will move CBBC online within the next three years, along with older-skewing channel BBC Four, as the corporation grapples with savings of around £1.5BN ($2BN) over five years. Director General Tim Davie plans to axe up to 1,000 employees during this timeframe, with around 1,200 having left since he started 18 months ago.

Since joining in 2020, Hidalgo has been radically reshaping the BBC Children’s team, which is one of the organization’s greatest assets in its battle to cut through in the new world of deep-pocketed competitors. She has reshaped commissioning structure, overseen BBC Children’s in-house production team’s move to commercial arm BBC Studios – allowing that team to create shows for third parties – and unveiled a tripling of animation spend in a bid to discover a UK equivalent of The Simpsons. 

More change is likely incoming, with the DMP&P reshuffle described as “one of the final pillars to be reviewed as part of our wider Children’s & Education Restructure” by Hidalgo.

Her email to staff carried the rhetoric of Director General Davie’s digital-first/slimmed-down approach.

“The BBC strategy is focused on digital transformation and ensuring the BBC is fit for future success, and there is also a drive to look at where we can make efficiencies and focus where the growth potential is in our products and editorial content,” wrote Hidalgo, neatly summarizing Davie’s direction.

She also pushed “using owned and operated digital touchpoints to promote iPlayer and grow our brands and franchises in places where our audiences are.”

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