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A common usage in some of the upmarket broadsheets in Britain, the term Birtism and its associated adjective Birtist relate to the management style and policies of the Director-General of the BBC, John Birt. Whilst he has done much to slim down the organisation, his innovations are regarded by some as having added their own layers of bureaucracy through a system which has created a market economy for producers, because every activity in every department now has to be costed and charged to users. His most recent proposal, to bring World Service news within domestic departments to reduce costs, has provoked protest from broadcasters and listeners world-wide, afraid that the World Service will lose some of its cherished objectivity and independence. The scheme was approved by the BBC’s Governors in October 1996, subject to some safeguards insisted upon by the Foreign Office, which pays for the Overseas Services.

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Copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.

Page created 03 Aug 1996