BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: Audio/Video: Programmes: Breakfast with Frost
Front Page 
World 
UK 
UK Politics 
Business 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Education 
Entertainment 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 
Programmes 

banner

Greg Dyke, Director General BBC
Please note "BBC Breakfast with Frost" must be credited if any part of this transcript is used.

DAVID FROST:

Well a year ago Greg Dyke the new Director-General of the BBC on his first weekend in full power, full office, came along here and we talked about what he was planning for the first year and we're delighted that this morning he's back to review that first year, Greg welcome.

GREG DYKE:

Morning David.

DAVID FROST:

And first and foremost what would you draw up as the balance sheet of the first year in terms of the successes and failures?

GREG DYKE:

Well I think there are some successes, quite big successes, I mean I think the latest figures out on radio show that BBC Radio is going through a, a really good time, certainly BBC local radio, the figures that were published this week showed that BBC local radio has had its best figures for many years, a lot to do with the service it provided during the floods. So I think radio is, is pretty healthy. I think looking back over the year, what was the aim? The aim was to try to, I mean I started off trying to say look what we needed was more better programming, we've, that takes a number of factors. One, you need money, I mean a good programme needs money, talent and a bit of luck. Well we've, I think we are in the process of finding, thanks to the licence fee settlement and the savings we're making inside the BBC, the money. I think this place is full of talent but you've got to release it and let it get on with, with the programming and the luck, well we'll see if that comes as that programming comes through in the next year.

DAVID FROST:

Yeah, and it takes time though, you're saying really, to get big new drama series which obviously is one of the things that BBC1 needs, takes more than a year?

GREG DYKE:

Oh yes it takes, it'll take¿

DAVID FROST:

So when, when will it be, well it's been arranged but when will it be, as it were, your schedule, by when?

GREG DYKE:

Well it starts coming through into, into September next year, it doesn't come through 'til then.

DAVID FROST:

And drama is one of the urgent things. And what's your, what's your target for BBC1 which you've, I mean at the moment they quote the figures, BBC1 28.7 per cent and ITV 35.3 per cent, is your aim over the next three or four years Greg, to get level-pegging or just be slightly behind or ahead of ITV¿

GREG DYKE:

I don't think we see it that we, I don't think, our job isn't only about ratings, it's part of our job but our job is about producing I think a BBC1 that has impact, a BBC1 that, that people look at and feel yes that was worth it and actually there're some other figures, we track all sorts of figures as you can imagine and one of the things we ask people to do is how much do they rate the BBC and actually there is some evidence that, that since the Olympics those figures have gone up and I think the coverage of the Olympics was one of the high points of the first year.

DAVID FROST:

And in terms of savings, how much have you saved on croissants, cabs and consultants?

GREG DYKE:

Well we've saved something like £17 million, £16 million-£17 million a year on consultants, we saved another £4m or £5 million in a full year on those sorts of things, I mean we reckon after the first year our savings in the range of £25-£30 million, we've plans to save considerably more this year that we know where we can save, save it.

DAVID FROST:

If you had the decision over again about the Queen Mother's Pageant would you have done it?

GREG DYKE:

Well the Queen Mother's Pageant is classically one of those, those things that comes in this sort of job where you sit there on a Thursday never having heard of the Queen Mother's Pageant and suddenly it's an enormous story in a couple of the newspapers who run a campaign that you should cover it. The decision not to take, not to do it was taken within television, on balance, yeah I think I'd probably, I think I probably looking back now would have done it but, but it's very difficult if you're in, if you're in, running a television organisation, a very big television organisation is that you, it's very difficult to let the Daily Mail or anyone else tell you what should be in your schedules, as you can imagine. I mean it's a bit like letting them tell you what, who should be on your show.

DAVID FROST:

Absolutely, absolutely, what about BBC3 and BBC4, when would you like those to be on the air?

GREG DYKE:

Well those two digital channels are there now, they're called Choice and Knowledge, we're changing those we hope this autumn but we can't do anything and we have to go through a whole process of consulting the public about what we're planning to put on which we've done, then we have to take it to the Secretary of State and he has to then ask the television related industries what they think and then he makes a decision whether we can do it or not. But we would hope to get going this autumn.

DAVID FROST:

And during the day children's programming which children's programme companies like Nickelodeon have attacked and said it's not required or it's unfair competition?

GREG DYKE:

Well what we're planning is two, during the day two, two day-time children's channels one aimed at children under six and one between six and 13 and that will be digital, in all digital homes. Inevitably the commercial opposition, the people who are running existing commercial television channels have said this is unfair. Well we don't see it that way, I mean first of all and the public consultation we've done, asked people what do you think of these children's channels, are they a good idea 85 per cent of the population said yes we do think they're a good idea. I mean I do think there's a genuine desire that people would like to see children's channels that have got more British products because most of the current children's channels are 90 per cent plus American programming and secondly they'd like to see children's channels without advertisements and that's what we'll be offering.

DAVID FROST:

Moving the news, has it been a success or is the jury still out?

GREG DYKE:

Well we always saw it as a, something we would measure over a long period, the decision to move the news and the speed we did it was actually one of the better things I think we've done this year because it, there's always a danger in very large organisations like the BBC, people think you can't move quickly and one of the things that I was keen to get across to everybody who worked here is that we can, we are able and in the end we moved the news at two week's notice, we moved it to ten o'clock and that was a lot of collaboration around the BBC to achieve that because at the same time we extended all the local news bulletins that follow the network news from three and a half minutes to seven minutes. So it required everybody working, all over the country to work together in two weeks and get this done, and we did it. Has it worked? Yes the early evidence suggests the audiences are up now, they're, over the whole period they're flat but remember the news at nine had lost something like 30 per cent of its audience in the previous three years so our aim was to stop that audience, were ebbing away and then to build it back. A lot depends upon the programming that runs between nine and ten and we're hoping that later in the year we will have more successful programming in that slot and that'll deliver a big audience into the news. But actually I was looking yesterday at something quite interesting and since ITV have moved back to ten three nights a week, which seems pretty odd to us, I mean we call it News at When, but since they moved back three nights of the week we've got, obviously again doing a lot of tracking studies and there's quite a lot of evidence to suggest there's a, there's a million, an average million people who switch from ITV to the BBC to watch the BBC news, because we do a different sort of news, I mean it's longer, it's more in-depth and there's obviously a demand for that.

DAVID FROST:

And Chris Smith keeps on saying, he said it when he was here in the, he said it since elsewhere that he's going to be looking at the size of the audiences and the quality of the news and so on, and that if, if either of those decline then under the terms of the charter the BBC's got to look, look strongly at it, or the governors have got to look strongly at it and so on, at what point would you feel that you had to look strongly at it and assess it, I mean¿

GREG DYKE:

We, we look at it all the time, we look at, obviously the quality of it, but I mean in terms of the decision I would say so far it's been successful, we will know over the next year how successful when we see, when our new schedule comes in in the autumn what effect that has on the figures. What is really interesting about the, the decision by ITV to move back on three days of the week, is that the total news audience has gone up by three million a night and it's about 2.8 million a night.

DAVID FROST:

So over, so over the two, in terms of Chris Smith's fears, I mean although it sounds odd to have two news's head to head.

GREG DYKE:

Well only politicians watched both, there are very few other people who watched, who would have watched a nine o'clock news on the BBC and a ten o'clock news on ITV, so when you bring, it was always logical that when you brought the two most popular channels had their news at the same time you bring more people to the news and that's exactly what's happened in the first two weeks.

DAVID FROST:

And, and I mean it would take catastrophic figures, I mean news average four million or something, for you to have any second thoughts about this?

GREG DYKE:

Well in the end that's a decision for, I mean the recommendation must be a decision for the governors of the BBC, I mean I do think it's important that it's seen as a decision for the governors of the BBC and not a decision for politicians, I mean the Chancellor makes that very clear, that's a decision for the governors and they will review it after a period of time, which they should, and they will say to us well we don't think it's working or it is working. As I say so far the evidence suggests that the audiences year on year are about flat compared to the nine o'clock news last year.

DAVID FROST:

And pay-per-view, it's in the papers today, two papers today, Greg, say that you're planning a pay-per-view sports channel?

GREG DYKE:

Well what, what interests me about, if you take the job, this job in the sort of high profile way that I got it, now according to the newspapers everything that's done at the BBC is done by me personally, I mean I'm responsible for the rats in Broadcasting House and¿so¿and clearly this is a big organisation, all sorts of people do things, we are, we have, we appointed Peter Salmon who used to be Controller of BBC1 to run our sports department, so far he's done very well. We've got some rights back for the first time for a long time and this week by signing Lennox Lewis we have options on further Lewis fights. But it could well be when the big one comes around, which is him and Tyson if it comes, and that'll be much more money bid for pay-per-view but the BBC itself is not going into pay-per-view.

DAVID FROST:

But might you be partnered with people in doing pay-per-view in order to get some rights which you could also exploit on terrestrial?

GREG DYKE:

Well we will be, we are discussing whether we should be a small part of a commercial sports channel so that between us we can put money into buying rights, but again that, we're not there yet, we've been looking at that for some time now.

DAVID FROST:

And what about, I suppose your biggest headlines this year were the, the famous Radio Scotland interview and your describing the BBC as hideously white, in retrospect are you delighted you said that or.

GREG DYKE:

Well interesting the word hideously was not mine, the word hideously was the interviewers as you know, one of the, I fell for one of the oldest tricks in the book.

DAVID FROST:

Clever interviewer.

GREG DYKE:

Well the interviewer said to me do you think, do you think British Broadcasting is hideously white and I just said well I think the BBC's hideously white, never, and I never thought about it again until of course it came up. Do I regret it? Well I think I could have used another word, I think the word hideously was probably unnecessary but I think that what I was saying was right and I, and I make no apologies for that at all and that is the BBC and the make-up of the staffing of the BBC at particularly the management levels is too white for the multi-cultural society we now live in and I make no apologies for saying that and I make no apologies for trying to change that and if you look forward and you look at the demographics of what's happening in our cities, I mean I saw one quite recently that said that in 15 years time roughly half the population of what is London will be non-Anglo-Saxon white. Now if that's what's happening we as a large public broadcaster have got to reflect that, not just on screen where we do far better, but actually in the workforce.

DAVID FROST:

And do you find in addition to the workforce, you said you want to lift the, the number of ethnic employees to ten per cent, haven't you, and double the number in management?

GREG DYKE:

Well what we've said, I mean again after the publicity that came from that quote I got accused of all sorts of things and one of them was quotas and we're not putting in quotas, what we're putting in is targets. Now a member of staff said to me the other day, someone from an Asian background said to me are you saying if we're interviewing a black person and a white person and the black person is nearly as good we should give them the job and I said no way, no way. We must appoint the best person for the job, I just don't believe that means that they are going to be predominantly white, I just believe that there's enough talent out there in all sorts of, people from all sorts of different ethnic backgrounds that we should have a fair proportion of those in the BBC. And I think if we get the management, if we get everybody thinking about that we'll achieve it.

DAVID FROST:

And looking ahead to what we'll be discussing a year from now, what are your three¿

GREG DYKE:

You're inviting me back then are you?

DAVID FROST:

Yes, everyone witness that, yes, and you're coming.

GREG DYKE:

Well we'll see in a year's time, we'll see what sort of year it's been.

DAVID FROST:

That's being a politician rather than a broadcaster, that is, but I mean what are your three biggest targets?

GREG DYKE:

Oh there's one overwhelming target, this job is about programming, it's not about anything else really, the rest of it is irrelevant compared to, I think sometimes people have made this more complicated than it is, we collect something like £2.2 billion in the licence fee and we spend it, our job should be to spend it on the best programming we can and to spend as much of it on programming and as little of it on running the institution as we possibly can and that's what we try to do and that's, and the next year I hope I can sit here and say at the end of next year, look at these outstanding, there'll be failures because there always is, this is a creative business and if you didn't have failures you're not taking enough risks, but we should be looking and saying these are the great programmes we've made this year and the extra £2, £3, £400 million that we're putting into our services, this is the result.

DAVID FROST:

Terrific, we've got to take the news there.

[BREAK FOR NEWS]

DAVID FROST:

Of course got the general election coming up, the BBC will be under scrutiny again then I suppose, on political bias¿

GREG DYKE:

Oh inevitably, I mean that's what, during the elections, if you're the biggest news broadcaster in the country and the BBC is by a long way if you take radio and television together inevitably you come under scrutiny at the time and scrutiny is the polite word I think, that we come under at the time of the election.

DAVID FROST:

But anyway that, that may be in May, we don't know, but hope to see you in the first week of February next year, thank you very much indeed. Greg Dyke and of course all our guests we say Sven and everybody else and next week General Sir Charles Guthrie will be one of the guests here but that's just one of the guests next week, until then top of the morning, good morning.

END

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
BBC RADIO NEWS
BBC ONE TV NEWS
WORLD NEWS SUMMARY
PROGRAMMES GUIDE











E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Breakfast with Frost stories