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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 3 Aug. 1996

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The English language is forever changing. New words appear; old ones fall out of use or alter their meanings. World Wide Words tries to record at least a part of this shifting wordscape by featuring new words, word histories, words in the news, and the curiosities of native English speech.

World Wide Words is copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.
This page URL: http://www.worldwidewords.org/turnsofphrase/tp-bir1.htm
Last modified: 3 August 1996.