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Last Updated: Thursday, 2 June, 2005, 19:24 GMT 20:24 UK
Dyke looks back on BBC struggles
Jon Gower
By Jon Gower
BBC Wales Arts and Media Correspondent at the Hay Festival

Greg Dyke - photo: Justin Williams/Hay Festival
Greg Dyke thought he was lucky when at the helm of the BBC
Sixteen months after leaving the BBC, its former Director General Greg Dyke is establishing himself as an author.

He talked about Inside Story, the account of his life and troubled times at the corporation at this year's Hay Festival.

Dyke's big idea was "One BBC," a well- resourced publicly-supported broadcaster.

But with 4,000 redundancies looming, the corporation doesn't seem quite so united at the moment.

He said: "It is a difficult time, but (his successor Director General) Mark Thompson believes it's necessary to slim down the organisation.

"I was lucky when I went to the BBC. We found quite a large sum of money that we could spend over five years and our plan was to break even by the end of the period. I think he is trying to do the same."

Mr Dyke does not think that slimming down the BBC, making it a commissioner rather than a maker of programmes, is a good idea.

"Personally, I think the BBC is a production organisation as much as it is a broadcaster. I always supported that, but other managements don't."

He did have his own disagreements with governors but he gives the current green paper on the BBC's charter renewal a cautious thumbs-up.

A Manchester Utd supporter holding up a placard
Fans have protested against the Glazer takeover

"I thought the green paper wasn't bad, it was quite good for the BBC. I don't think the system of governance works but, by and large, I thought that it supported the continued strength of the BBC."

One of his current concerns is the future of his beloved Manchester United under its new owner, American tycoon Malcolm Glazer.

He said: "I think the Glazer takeover could be very damaging. It's not someone coming in, buying it and spending all their money on owning the club. He's borrowing the money, or most of it.

"The level of interest and the level of debt repayment required will make it very difficult.

"If it has one bad year and, say, does not qualify for Europe, then instead of making 40m-50m, it makes nothing.

"What's he going to do then? The only thing would be cutting the costs - players' wages - which makes you less competitive. Or charging the fans more to get in.

"I think it's potentially disastrous for Manchester United."

Having just turned 58, Dyke does not see himself returning to the top echelons of television.

But his life in broadcasting has allowed him to meet Bob Dylan and play football in front of a capacity crowd in Wembley, which can't be bad.


SEE ALSO:
BBC battles to keep whole TV fee
24 May 05 |  Entertainment
BBC governors set to be scrapped
02 Mar 05 |  Entertainment
Mixed reception for Thompson's vision
27 May 05 |  Entertainment



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