BBC’s Huggers Confirmed Future Media & Technology Director

As we and several others forecast back in April, BBC future media and technology (FM&T) controller Erik Huggers has just been confirmed in the director post, replacing Ashley Highfield on August 1. BBC DG Mark Thompson (via the release): “Erik has been a very strong group controller (of) FM&T for the last year. He has shown tremendous commitment championing the iPlayer amongst many other projects.” The promotion also sees Huggers appointed to the BBC’s top-level executive board.

Huggers: “It is a tremendous privilege … I now look forward to, along with my team, collaborating with colleagues across the BBC to ensure we respond to audience demands in providing exciting and innovative new ways of delivering the BBC’s content across a range of media.”

Huggers’ promotion comes 14 months after he joined the corporation, replacing Ashley Highfield, who became CEO of the Kangaroo VOD JV on July 1. He will control a 2008/09 budget of £114.4 million for alone, but Huggers’ responsibilities encompass all internet, interactive TV, mobile, broadband and emerging platforms operations, including iPlayer, totaling around £400 million.

But he will also inherit a division from which radical changes are expected, after last year’s £36 million overspend. The BBC Trust ordered a new management structure by December. It blamed last year’s reshuffle – in which BBC New Media’s activities were split across three units including FM&T – for weaknesses in managerial control.

Dutchman Huggers was recruited essentially as Highfield’s deputy in May 2007. A former senior director overseeing Microsoft