The year of 2009 saw significant management change at the BBC with CIO Keith Little departing for a business transformation consultancy and Tiffany Hall taking on the role. A 14-year veteran at the Corporation and formerly at Shell, Hall is now responsible for IT infrastructure, security and support at the public service broadcaster and her appointment comes as part of CTO John Linwood's restructuring at the BBC's Broadcast and Enterprise Technology function in its Future Media & Technology Division. As part of that change programme, Hall has assumed responsibility for a strategy designed to give technology suppliers more visibility of specifications to improve the tendering process.
In a recent interview with CIO, Hall, a 15-year veteran of the Beeb, said her plan was to standardise platforms and projects wherever possible using IP and other open frameworks.
With its iPlayer programming catch-up player now established as one of the UK's most dearly treasured web assets, the BBC late in the year moved to make it available on the BBC/ITV joint-venture Freesat service. The move tallies with the Corporation's controversial desire to open up iPlayer and, in the words of director general Mark Thompson, "help secure the future of public service broadcasting in this country".
However, familiar arguments against the BBC persist and the BBC Trust recently barred it from developing for iPhones and the Corporation also announced it is slashing the amount of money it spends on its website. The broadcaster will halve the number of pages it runs on the extensive www.bbc.co.uk site. The site has 29.5 million unique visitors from the UK each week.
Up to a quarter of online staff will lose their jobs, alongside an approximate £28 million cut from the £112 million web budget. The plans form part of a raft of changes at the broadcaster, including switching off a number of its radio stations and diverting an extra £600 million into other programming.
Director general Mark Thompson, writing in the Guardian newspaper, said the BBC needed to focus on quality instead of attempting "to do everything". Nevertheless, he insisted the move did not mark a "retreat from digital", adding that would be "the last thing the British public want".
Also this year, IT contractors employed by Siemens at the BBC voted on a one-day strike over a pay freeze and redundancies.
Another controversial move is Project Canvas, the scheme to the TV-over-broadband that in 2009 gained the support of Channel Five and is expected to go live in 2010. While supporters say it will give licence-payers better value, others suggest it is a pricey, anticompetitive manoeuvre. Pricey it certainly is: in November 2009, the Beeb said the cost for the first four years had swollen to over £115m.
A previous attempt to create a video-on-demand platform with commercial partners, Project Kangaroo, was blocked by the Competition Commission.
In November 2009, the BBC suffered an embarrassment when a laptop with scripts for its soap opera Eastenders was stolen.