Staff Memo: BBC’s Thompson On Huggers Leaving

The full memo from BBC director-general Mark Thompson announcing Erik Huggers’ departure:

Dear All,
After nearly four years with BBC Future Media & Technology, Erik Huggers is to leave the BBC at the end of February to become Corporate Vice President and General Manager of Intel’s Digital Home Group, based at its Silicon Valley headquarters in California.

Since he became Director in August 2008, Future Media & Technology has helped to re-establish the BBC’s strength in technology, and as a result changed perceptions of the BBC as an innovator and strengthened our relationship with the public. During his tenure, BBC Online, BBC Red Button and BBC Mobile have seen exceptional growth, while BBC iPlayer delivered a record 145 million TV and Radio programme views across some 60 devices during December.

Erik is the key architect for a radical refocusing of BBC Online as part of our proposals for Delivering Quality First, which we will be announcing in due course. He also presided over significant technology projects such as W1, BBC North and Fabric and has chaired the YouView consortia to the point where it was incorporated as a joint venture. He has been a dynamic and inspiring colleague and I wish him all the best with his new role at Intel.

Following Erik’s departure we have decided, in part following conversations within the division, to reorganise the Future Media & Technology area into two more distinct areas – the development of our digital services to the public such as BBC iPlayer (Future Media) and the core, underlying technology which powers the BBC (Technology). And so rather than replacing Erik with a new Director of FM&T, I have asked two of Erik’s direct reports to step up.

As Chief Technology Officer (CTO), John Linwood will head up a new Technology division which will be responsible for delivering the BBC’s digital needs in terms of production, broadcast, connectivity and enterprise support. He will continue to be responsible for Information & Archives. The division will be part of the Operations Group under the overall leadership of the Chief Operating Officer, Caroline Thomson. As CTO, John will sit on the BBC Direction Group (BDG).

John has done an outstanding job over the past 18 months in leading the Broadcast and Enterprise Technology Group at the BBC and driving projects like W1, BBC North and Fabric to successful implementation. I believe that giving John leadership of a separate Technology division and a seat on BDG will help him take the digital transformation of the BBC to the next level.

I am also appointing Ralph Rivera as Director of Future Media, a division which will focus on developing and delivering digital products and services. The Future Media side of FM&T also has many recent successes to its name, including BBC iPlayer. It too faces immense challenges as the pace of digital change quickens, and we strive to meet our audiences’ changing needs. For that reason, Ralph will be a member of the Executive Board where we can continue the critical conversations with both executive and non-executive directors about how the BBC meets the consumer challenges we face in a converged, fully digital world. BBC Research & Development, led by Matthew Postgate, will report in to Ralph’s division though it will continue to partner with the broader BBC and industry.

These changes are effective from March 1, 2011. Please join me in congratulating John and Ralph on their new roles, and thanking Erik for everything he has done for the BBC over the past few years.