BBC insider Tim Davie appointed new director-general

The head of the BBC’s commercial arm, Tim Davie, has been appointed as the corporation’s new director-general.

Davie is currently chief executive of BBC Studios, which sells BBC programming and other British content abroad. His promotion actually comes with pay cut – down from £600,000 to £450,000.

He will replace Tony Hall as the 17th director-general from 1 September.

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Davie said: “This has been a critical time for the UK and these past few months have shown just how much the BBC matters to people.

“Our mission has never been more relevant, important or necessary. I have a deep commitment to content of the highest quality and impartiality.”

Davie takes over at a challenging time for the BBC and the wider news industry. The corporation already has to find £800m in savings by 2022, including £80m in news, and is undergoing a significant restructure.

The Covid-19 crisis has forced the BBC to cut or alter some shows and run only a “core news service”, which it has said will cost it £125m in lost income –  further savings that need to be found.

“Looking forward, we will need to accelerate change so that we serve all our audiences in this fast-moving world,” added Davie.

“Much great work has been done, but we will continue to reform, make clear choices and stay relevant. I am very confident we can do this because of the amazing teams of people that work at the BBC.”

Lord Hall, who will go on to take up a role as chairman of the board of Trustees of the National Gallery, said his successor “is a fantastic leader”, adding: “I know that the BBC is in safe hands.”

Davie studied English at Cambridge University and worked for major US firm Procter and Gamble. He has 15 years’ experience at executive level in the BBC, including a spell as acting director-general in 2012.

BBC Studios was formed in April 2018 by the merger of BBC World and BBC Studios. It has a turnover of £1.4bn, returning £243m to the BBC to supplement its licence-fee earnings in 2018/19.

Sir David Clementi, chairman of the BBC Board, said: “Tim has a strong track record as the chief executive of BBC Studios and is one of the most respected names in the industry.

“His leadership and experience, both outside the BBC and within, will ensure that we are well placed to meet the opportunities and challenges of the coming years. Tim has an enthusiasm and energy for reform, while holding dear to the core mission of the BBC.

“We know that the industry is undergoing unprecedented change and the organisation faces significant challenges as well as opportunities. I am confident that Tim is the right person to lead the BBC as it continues to reform and change.

“My focus for the remainder of my own term as Chairman, until February of next year, will be to ensure that there is a smooth and successful handover and that the BBC continues to serve audiences across the whole of the UK.”

Pre-coronavirus crisis the BBC faced political challenges over its failure to call Brexit and a Tory landslide at the last general election.

A government consultation on decriminalising TV licence evasion, widely seen as an attack on the corporation, closed in April. The BBC earns nearly £4bn a year from TV licence fees and non-payment risks a hefty fine.

In his first speech after becoming Culture Secretary earlier this year, Oliver Dowden raised the question of whether the BBC “truly reflects all of our nation” after it “missed” key political changes in recent years.

Commenting on Davie’s appointment today, Dowden said: “The BBC is a great British institution and Tim will have a crucial role in making sure that it can deliver for audiences across the UK in a changing, fast-moving media landscape.

“I have spoken to Tim on his appointment and I am encouraged that he has underlined his commitment to impartiality at the BBC as well as the need for further reform. I look forward to working with him in the months and years ahead.”

Picture: BBC

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