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BBC's director of future media off to pastures new

£330k-per-year iPlayer chief is leaving the Beeb for Intel...

£330k-per-year iPlayer chief is leaving the Beeb for Intel...

Erik Huggers, the BBC's director of future media and technology, is leaving the corporation at the end of February to join networking giant Intel.

Huggers will become corporate VP and general manager of Intel's Digital Home Group, based in California, and will also become a member of Intel's management committee. In a statement about his new role, he said: "This is a tremendous opportunity to build a new business for silicon, software and services to unlock the potential of high-quality connected media experiences in the living room."

Huggers, who earned a salary of £330,000 and total remuneration of £407,000 in 2009-10, joined the BBC in 2007 and has been director of the Beeb's future media and technology division for more than two years. He took over from Ashley Highfield, who left to join Microsoft. Huggers is also a member of the BBC's executive board.

At the BBC, Huggers has presided over the development of its iPlayer online TV service - growing it from what he described as "still very much a web 1.0 proposition" in an interview with silicon.com in 2009 to a third iteration with built-in chat and social-networking features.

Huggers has also been core to steering the Beeb's involvement in the YouView project - an initiative to produce set-top boxes that can stream TV on demand from the internet, along with a host of other broadcasters, ISPs and tech vendors.

Mobile apps were also on Huggers' radar during his tenure at the BBC. At last year's Mobile World Congress trade show he announced the Beeb would be getting into the apps-making business - sparking protests from newspaper publishers and a review by the BBC Trust. The apps plan finally got the go-ahead last summer.

Erik Huggers: The BBC's director of future media and technology is leaving at the end of February to take a job at Intel

Erik Huggers, the BBC's director of future media and technology, is leaving at the end of February to take a job at Intel
(Photo credit: BBC)

BBC staff learned of Huggers' departure in an email from the BBC's director general Mark Thompson, who lauded Huggers for helping to "re-establish the BBC's strength in technology".

"During his tenure, BBC Online, BBC Red Button and BBC Mobile have seen exceptional growth," wrote Thompson. "While BBC iPlayer delivered a record 145 million TV and radio programme views across some 60 devices during December. "He has been a dynamic and inspiring colleague and I wish him all the best with his new role at Intel."

Before joining the Beeb, Huggers worked for Microsoft, where he headed up global business development for Windows Media Technologies. He has also worked for Endemol Entertainment as director of business development for its interactive division. Last year he was voted one of the top 30 most influential individuals in silicon.com's Government Agenda Setters list.

From 1 March, Thompson said the BBC will be splitting the future media and technology division into two, creating a future media division responsible for the development of public-facing digital services such as iPlayer, and a technology division for the underlying technology which powers the BBC.

Two of Huggers' direct reports will step up to replace him by heading the new divisions. BBC CTO John Linwood heads up the technology division, and director of digital media Ralph Rivera is appointed as director of future media. Rivera will join the BBC's executive board.

Thompson said Linwood will be responsible for delivering the BBC's digital needs in terms of production, broadcast, connectivity and enterprise support, and will continue to be responsible for its information and archives division. He will also sit on the BBC direction group (BDG). The technology division will be part of the BBC's operations group, under the overall leadership of COO Caroline Thomson.

"John has done an outstanding job over the past 18 months in leading the broadcast and enterprise technology group at the BBC and driving projects like W1, BBC North and Fabric to successful implementation," said Thompson. "I believe that giving John leadership of a separate technology division and a seat on the BDG will help him take the digital transformation of the BBC to the next level."

The new future media division will focus on developing and delivering digital products and services, according to Thompson. BBC research and development, led by Matthew Postgate, will report in to Rivera's division.

"[Future media] faces immense challenges as the pace of digital change quickens, and we strive to meet our audiences' changing needs. For that reason, Ralph will be a member of the executive board where we can continue the critical conversations with both executive and non-executive directors about how the BBC meets the consumer challenges we face in a converged, fully digital world," said Thompson.