CloudCloud ManagementMarketingWorkspace

BBC Insider Appointed To Troubled CTO Position

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

Auntie appoints a BBC insider to its troubled CTO position, after the botched Digital Media Initiative

The BBC has named Matthew Postgate as its new chief technology officer (CTO).

The new appointment was announced as the corporation looks to restore confidence its technical prowess, following the “complete failure” of its ‘Digital Media Initiative’ (DMI) which wasted a cool £100m of taxpayers money.


Matthew Postgate will be responsible for delivering the BBC’s technology strategy and will report to Managing Director of Finance and Operations, Anne Bulford. His role includes “the delivery and management of broadcast and enterprise technology infrastructure as well as the Corporation’s IT requirements.”

MatthewPostgateMatthew will start as CTO on Monday 28 July, and will leave his existing position as the BBC’s Controller of R&D. In that role he was responsible for a number of BBC development teams, including the team that will deliver the world’s first UHD (4k) broadcasts over internet (IP) and broadcast technologies (DTT).

“It’s been a huge honour for me to lead a number of teams within BBC Future Media,” said Postgate. “They are the best in the business and leaders in their field, just look at the BBC’s World Cup UHD trials, but opportunities like this are rare and I didn’t want it to pass me by. I look forward to working with my new colleagues in Technology.”

“Matthew knows technology, he knows the BBC and he knows how crucial this role is for the BBC,” said his new boss, Anne Bulford. “He has all the qualities needed to excel in this position and I know he will bring innovation, expertise and value to the BBC. I would also like to thank Peter Coles for his excellent stewardship of the team over the year as interim CTO.”

Poisoned chalice?

There is little doubt that Postgate inherits a troubled position within the BBC.

The BBC had been reeling over its botched Digital Media Initiative, which was scrapped in May of last year following a lengthy development process that began in 2008. The corporate admitting it had wasted nearly £100m of licence fee payers’ money. It was supposed to have completed the project in 2011, but failed to do so, despite ditching contractor Siemens and taking the project in-house.

The man who oversaw that disaster, John Linwood, was sacked in July 2013.

Mark Thompson, the BBC’s former director general, apologised at the Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) hearing in February this year.

Linwood meanwhile is taking legal action against the BBC over the matter.

When Linwood was questioned by the PAC, he pointed to a “lack of engagement” by senior managers as an element in the project’s failure. He said that while at the time he “believed” in DMI’s business case, he was only involved in the technology and not the business model.

He also reiterated that he believes current director general Lord Hall wrote off far more of the project than was accurate.

Do you know all about public sector IT – the triumph and the tragedy? Take our quiz!