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BBC's new director starts with debts warning in staff address.

MARK Thompson marked his first day as director- general of the BBC yesterday by warning the Corporation must cut costs.

The BBC is in debt and spending more than its income,he told staff.

The former Channel 4 boss announced plans for a review aimed at increasing efficiencies,controlling costs and maximising value for money.

``The financial picture is tight,''he said in a speech broadcast to the BBC's 28,000 staff.

``Every bit of licence fee has been allocated to the end of the current Charter -and this year the BBC is spending more than its income. That was planned but nonetheless it's something to keep an eye on.

``As we are now in debt we need to keep a very careful control on cash -we cannot risk exceeding our statutory borrowing limit.''

Mr Thompson said ``self-help'' strategies would be one way of meeting the BBC's financial burdens.

He also set out his plans to simplify the structure of the BBC,making it more effective and adaptable to change.

The old board of directors is to be replaced by three new boards dealing with journalism,creative content and commercial business.

Deputy director-general Mark Byford has been appointed chair of the journalism board, which will bring the BBC's international, national and regional journalism together for the first time.

It will implement the recommendations of the NeilReview, set up in response to the findings of the Hutton Inquiry, which publishes its report today . Mr Thompson acknowledged that the BBC's journalism ``will require more continuous and concentrated editorial leadership at the top of the organisation as we go forward''.

Alan Yentob,director of drama,entertainment and children's programming,has a new title as the BBC's creative director.

Finance director John Smith will chair the commercial business board.

Mr Thompson said: ``Without great programmes, great content, we'renothing.

``Our task is going to be to change the BBC more rapidly and radically over the next three to five years than at any previous point in its history.''
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jun 23, 2004
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