Newly installed BBC director-general Tim Davie has made clear his opposition to the BBC becoming a subscription service.
In a speech to staff on Thursday, the former head of commercial unit BBC Studios said the corporation needed to act to ensure more people felt the BBC was for them, across all political views, age ranges and area of society.
“For the avoidance of doubt, I do not want a subscription BBC that serves the few. We could make a decent business out of it, and I suspect it could do quite well in certain postcodes, but it would make us just another media company serving a specific group.”
The controversial decision by the BBC to remove the free TV Licence from the over 75s – a move triggered by the 2015 agreement with the Conservative government – has reignited the debate over whether the UK should have a Licence Fee at all with the flames being fanned by a government clear in its intention to clip the BBC’s wings.
Davie’s response was also to recommit the BBC to impartiality: “If you work here, nothing should be more exciting than exploring different views, seeking evidence with curiosity and creatively presenting testimony. Making use of our own experiences but not driven by our personal agendas.”
Those agendas include the views of star presenters who take to social media on any number of causes. “If you want to be an opinionated columnist or a partisan campaigner on social media then that is a valid choice, but you should not be working at the BBC,” said Davie.
There was no intention to take further DAB Digital Radio or capacity for linear channels, and while Davie’s BBC would look to extract further value from online he would not hesitate to close underperforming channels.