Producer Choice, the controversial BBC internal market introduced by former director general Lord John Birt 13 years ago is coming to an end. According to Ariel, the BBC's in-house magazine, a new "common sense" system will be introduced in which different BBC departments will no longer charge each other for goods and services. More details on the Media Guardian site.
Lord Birt claimed that Producer Choice freed up tens of millions of pounds to be ploughed into new programming, by making BBC staff aware for the first time about the true cost of internal products and services. Maybe it did but it also led to lots of stories about researchers finding it cheaper to buy a CD rather than borrow it from the library. At a cost of £10 a query, fact-checking was also prohibitively expensive. Researchers rang up bookshops rather than using the in-house library, because of the cost of borrowing books. There was a time in the 1990s when not a day seemed to go by without me having to fend off some BBC person or other trying to get cuttings or information for free.
It will be interesting to see though whether the new system leads to a resurgence in use of the BBC information department.