BBC cans tapeless Digital Media Initiative


The BBC has scrapped its 98.4 million Digital Media Initiative (DMI) and suspended its chief technology officer on full pay.

The project was intended to make it easier for staff to find and retrieve video footage from their computers and was supposed to save the corporation over 95 million.

I have serious concerns about how we managed this project

However the initiative did not deliver on its promise after a review found that 'its ambitions had not been met' and director general Tony Hall took the decision to halt the project with immediate effect.

The waste is the equivalent of almost 660,000 licence fees.

"The DMI project has wasted a huge amount of licence fee payers' money and I saw no reason to allow that to continue which is why I have closed it," said Hall.

"I have serious concerns about how we managed this project and the review that has been set up is designed to find out what went wrong and what lessons can be learned."

Hall said that ambitious technology projects like this always carry a risk of failure. "It does not mean we should not attempt them, but we have a responsibility to keep them under much greater control than we did here."

In a letter to Margaret Hodge, chair of the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee, the BBC Trust's Anthony Fry said DMI had generated "little or no assets".

"It is of utmost concern to us that a project which had already failed to deliver value for money in its early stages has now spent so much more of licence fee payers' money," he said.

DMI was started in 2004 and outsourced to Siemens, however the company failed to deliver the project and it was then brought back in-house. An internal review was set up in October 2012 after the BBC Trust expressed serious concerns.

Following the DMI debacle, John Linwood, the BBC's chief technology officer, has been suspended. The corporation's technology controller Peter Coles will take over as acting chief technology officer.

A commercial alternative will now replaced the doomed IT system, while the only part of the system to go live, the Fabric archive database, will continue to be used by the BBC.

Rene Millman

Rene Millman is a freelance writer and broadcaster who covers cybersecurity, AI, IoT, and the cloud. He also works as a contributing analyst at GigaOm and has previously worked as an analyst for Gartner covering the infrastructure market. He has made numerous television appearances to give his views and expertise on technology trends and companies that affect and shape our lives. You can follow Rene Millman on Twitter.