BBC DG Tim Davie sets out BBC-led ‘case for growth’

Tiim Davie (Credit RTS and Paul Hampartsoumian)

BBC director-general Tim Davie delivered a speech at a Royal Television Society (RTS) event yesterday in which he set out “a case for growth”. Pointing to the threat of marginalisation by “vast US and Chinese players”, he called on “the BBC, regulators, politicians – all of us – to work together and make clear decisions. To invest capital and set policy, deliberately, not simply live on hope and good intent.”

Davie argued that the BBC and UK creative sector have entered “a defining decade”. Estimating that the sector generates £109 billion in annual GVA (Gross Value Added), he said “that’s bigger than the life sciences, aerospace, automotive, oil and gas sectors combined. If we get it right, we have the potential to more than double that by 2030 growing way ahead of the wider economy, and delivering jobs across the UK.”

After laying out the BBC’s various achievements over its 100-year history, Davie then set out a blueprint for the future of the BBC and the UK, based around four key themes: “Move to an internet future with greater urgency; transform the BBC faster to have a clear, market leading role in the digital age; proactively invest in the BBC brand as a global leader: and move faster in regulating for future success urgently.”

On the latter point, he called for “a regulatory framework that is proactive. It must be agile – able to respond without endless consultation and process. Part of this is allowing the (BBC) commercial arm to thrive and a regime that is ex post, not ex ante, responding to obvious harm when it occurs, not defining every possible negative outcome in advance and restricting UK innovation as a result.”

Regarding the licence fee, which is increasingly the subject of political controversy, Davie said: “We are privileged to have the Licence Fee until 27/28 but if you take the period 2010 to 2028, we forecast that core funding for the BBC has been cut by a whopping 30%. As we look to the 2030s, we are open minded about future funding mechanics. But it is critical that we need a universal solution that fuels UK public service growth not stifles it while offering audiences outstanding value for money.”

Davie admitted that the BBC “is not perfect, we make mistakes, we struggle, we commit acts of self-harm, and the Licence Fee is positively described by some as the least-worst option.… But the BBC is one of the most powerful and well recognised brands on the planet and we should be backing it. It’s as simple as that.”

Tags: BBC, RTS, Tim Davie, UK

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