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BBC abandons its Digital Media Initiative

The BBC has announced that it will close the £100 million project intended to digitise its production systems.

The Digital Media Initiative (DMI), which would have enabled all BBC production staff to effectively create programmes from their desktops, had been suspended last autumn. Established in 2008, it had been viewed as a key plank in the way digital video was shared around the corporation in the light of the move of programmes such as Breakfast and Blue Peter to the new facility in Salford, Greater Manchester, Rapid TV News reports.

The contract to deliver the technology solution for DMI was originally awarded to Siemens and brought back in-house to the BBC by mutual agreement.

A total of £98.4 million was spent on the project, which BBC director-general Tony Hall said had “wasted a huge amount of licence fee payers’ money” and promised an investigation by the BBC Trust.  John Linwood, the BBC’s chief technology officer, has also been suspended.

“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. 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,” he said.

The Digital Media Initiative set out to create new digital production tools and link them with a central, digital archive that would allow BBC staff to access a seamless digital chain throughout the production process, from camera to archive.