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Former BBC boss Mark Thompson faces Commons grilling over £100m digital disaster

By Press Association

Former BBC director-general Mark Thompson faces questions from a powerful committee of MPs today about the multi-million pound failure of the corporation's Digital Media Initiative (DMI).

He is one of a handful of current and former BBC employees giving evidence to the Public Affairs Committee about the scheme which was intended to create an integrated digital production and archiving system and ended up being abandoned having cost £100 million of licence fee cash.

Also giving evidence is John Linwood, the corporation's former chief technology officer, who was sacked last year after an internal BBC review into DMI.

It emerged last week that Linwood – who was paid a salary of £280,000 – was sacked weeks after being suspended over the multi-million-pound failure last May.

A report by the National Audit Office (NAO), published last week, was heavily critical of the scheme and said the BBC Executive "did not have sufficient grip" on the IT project and did not properly assess the system to see whether it was "technically sound".

DMI was meant to allow staff to handle all aspects of video and audio content from their desks, but after years of difficulties – during which £125.9 million was ploughed into it – the plug was pulled last year leaving a net cost of £98.4 million.

Margaret Hodge MP, who chairs the committee, said the NAO report read "like a catalogue of how not to run a major programme" and said the "failures go right to the top".

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She said: "I look forward to discussing this with senior, and former senior, members of the BBC, such as former director general Mark Thompson, when they come before us."


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