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What's costing us £130m and is two years behind schedule?

 
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RockitRon



Joined: 07 Dec 2006
Posts: 7565

PostPosted: Wed Feb 02, 2011 11:57 am    Post subject: What's costing us £130m and is two years behind schedule? Reply with quote

The BBC's "digital initiative"

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/tvandradio/bbc/8296313/BBCs-130m-digital-initiative-not-good-value-for-money-says-NAO.html

Excellent idea to do away with tape, everyone else seems to have done it as easily as buying breakfast cereal, but between them the Beeb and Siemens seem to have made a huge porridge. Even when it's finished it won't be saving us money.

The NHS, ATC, MoD, BBC - why is it so hard for them to obtain systems fit for the 21st century at reasonable cost? Or were they really penny-pinching, and that's the reason they have all been c*ck-ups?[/i]
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Ian Robinson
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Joined: 11 Dec 2006
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Location: Chorley, Lancashire

PostPosted: Wed Feb 02, 2011 12:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Private Eye have been covering this for years, and it basically seems that Siemens were unable to do what the BBC wanted or expected but, rather than kick 'em up the arse, the BBC just kept digging away with them.
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Rachel
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 02, 2011 1:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The problem is, Ron, that big organisations like the ones you mention are staffed with people who have “no clue” about the commercial world or how anything really works. They enter into arrangements with commercial companies to supply this or that believing what the salesman told them. I’ve been there when I was at the MoD. Often they are sold products in development – especially with IT stuff – so the actual product is a moving target – and technology is moving so fast that the thing you initially wanted and ordered is obsolete before the project is complete- so the nice salesman comes back to sell you an upgrade to your new system that isn’t actually rolled out yet across your department or whatever. Then when the thing is finally up and running, you’ve had all your staff trained to use it, you then discover that it doesn’t actually do exactly what you asked for, similar, but annoyingly just not quite what you wanted- the nice salesman comes back to sell you a bespoke bolt-on , in the meantime you carry on using your old system- cos it works and the new system in tandem because when it eventually does do what you want it to, it needs all the data from the old system. You have to employ extra staff to run the new efficient system because the old system is just hanging together and needs careful stroking by the last few staff you have who know how to use it. All of this takes loads of time and money. However: you.. or me as it was gets whopping big pay rises for your excellent management, productivity and initiative in dealing with these nasty outsiders.
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ColinB
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 02, 2011 1:57 pm    Post subject: Re: What's costing us £130m and is two years behind schedule Reply with quote

RockitRon wrote:
The BBC's "digital initiative"

Excellent idea to do away with tape, everyone else seems to have done it as easily as buying breakfast cereal, but between them the Beeb and Siemens seem to have made a huge porridge. Even when it's finished it won't be saving us money.[/i]


It can't be done as easily as buying breakfast cereal at all. Far from it. It's a massive undertaking and involves the migration of all analogue assets into the digital domain - assets that are storage formats as diverse as 2" Quad tape to 1" C Format to Betacam-SP to....... etc etc. The purpose of the initiative was to make all programming assets available on the internal network such that vision and sound clips, documents and other data can be accessed from anywhere on the network. And, of course, all new acquisition was to be limited to solid-state, tapeless, formats - which, for television, also means High Definition. That adds even greater constraints.

The plan was that the BBC organisation would be "tapeless" by 2010, but people on the inside knew that wasn't possible. I know people shooting news video for the BBC who are still shooting in 4:3 Beta-SP (ask Rachel what that is - she knows)!

And what about all the freelancers out there supplying the corporation? With many, many staffers now being forced to become freelance contract staff on diminished earnings, it's not so easy to equipment with a Sony EX3 overnight and be supplying solid-state SxS XDCAM-EX clips that can be digitally ingested into the network for immediate use!

Let's not forget that the BBC committed itself to this project after a lot of pressure from the old Board of Directors (and perhaps even politicians), but - as Rachel points out - those charged with the responsibility of making this admittedly bold and innovative project work have been presented with unreasonably tight constraints and deadlines by those who genuinely don't have a clue.

But it's by no means an easy thing to accomplish. It's incredibly complex.
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mark occomore



Joined: 07 Dec 2006
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Location: UK

PostPosted: Wed Feb 02, 2011 3:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The BBC always value for money. Also very wasteful with it.
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ColinB
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 02, 2011 4:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

mark occomore wrote:
The BBC always value for money. Also very wasteful with it.


That isn't completely true.
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RockitRon



Joined: 07 Dec 2006
Posts: 7565

PostPosted: Thu Feb 03, 2011 8:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you for the insight, Rach and Colin.

It seems that the usual economies of scale apply in reverse.
You make technology and electronics sound so easy, and most people can buy and set up quite sophisticated computers and androids (they're no longer just mobile phones are they?) with the same alacrity that they buy cornflakes, so it's little wonder that we, and newspaper journalists who can't be bothered to research and explain the background, assume gross incompetance all round when some bean counter publishes figures like that.
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MadeinSurrey



Joined: 11 Dec 2006
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 03, 2011 8:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

mark occomore wrote:
The BBC always value for money. Also very wasteful with it.


Mark, those 2 statements are contradictory!
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Helen May



Joined: 10 Dec 2006
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 03, 2011 11:24 am    Post subject: Re: What's costing us £130m and is two years behind schedule Reply with quote

ColinB wrote:
I know people shooting news video for the BBC who are still shooting in 4:3 Beta-SP (ask Rachel what that is - she knows)!


I do to Colin......................

H
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