BBC chief executive Tim Davie said the shocking government cabinet reshuffle on Wednesday, which saw the ouster of another Culture Secretary, underlines the urgent need for a “really serious and mature dialogue “with the government to discuss the future of the creative industries.
Davie, whose opening speech on Thursday morning opened the second and final day of the Royal Television Society convention in Cambridge, said he had yet to ‘make contact’ with the new Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries, who replaced Oliver Dowden on Wednesday, but that it was “too early to draw any conclusions.
“We have been part of 10 culture secretaries over the past 10 years,” Davie said. “The key thing that I have found is that we need a really serious and mature dialogue with the government to talk about what we want to do in this industry and the place of the BBC in it.”
There will always be “a little bit of drama” around the dynamics of government appointments, Davie said, but at the end of the day, “we’re going to sit down and have a good dialogue around the BBC and I’m looking forward to it.” .
Moderator Deborah Turness, CEO of ITN news powerhouse, asked Davie about the new Culture Secretary’s views on the BBC. Dorries, who’s sort of a reality TV star who starred in “I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here!” and Channel 4’s “Tower Block for the Commons” did not hesitate to voice its point of view on the public broadcaster, whose license fee-based funding model it deemed “obsolete” and “more compliant.” Soviet-style country “.
“I wouldn’t be too distracted by this,” Davie de Dorries said in his previous comments. “At the end of the day, it’s about sitting down with the ministers and the teams and really getting started. There is a strong case [for the BBC] and we’ll talk about it… We need to have a dialogue on a slightly different level. I think there are good people in government and we are having a constructive conversation. “
The BBC is primarily funded by a license fee, which charges anyone who watches BBC programming around £ 159 ($ 220) per year. Failure to pay license fees has long been a criminal offense, but Boris Johnson’s government has long threatened to decriminalize non-payment, which would effectively remove the incentive for people to pay the fees. In January, the government shelved decriminalization plans, but Beeb’s royalty model still remains in the government’s sights.
Davie was also asked about the appointment of former Huffington Post editor-in-chief Jess Brammar, who was appointed editor-in-chief of the BBC news channels on Wednesday. The company had previously been criticized for taking the journalist into account, who had spoken openly on social media about the government and Brexit in the past.
Davie, who previously headed the BBC’s commercial distribution arm, BBC Studios, strongly defended the hiring on Thursday. “We are in dangerous territory if political positions and previous tweets exclude you from jobs at the BBC. We hire people from all walks of life and a wide range of media, ”he said.
“My expectations as a leader of the organization are that anyone joining our organization leaves their policy at the door… What I don’t want to do is [end up in a place where] we are unable to hire the best people.
The chief executive also weighed in on BBC Chairman Richard Sharp’s controversial comments about Channel 4 during his opening speech on RTS on Wednesday. Addressing the ongoing debate over the potential privatization of the broadcaster “Great British Bake Off”, Sharp described it as a “local issue” and said there would be a “consequence” of the privatization but “I think it will. is among some of the bigger trends that mean more to the BBC than that.
Reflecting on Sharp’s comments, Davie said the comments were “slightly misinterpreted.”
“Nobody is saying that there is no need to change,” he said. “I think it’s really important to put these challenges in a global context. We do not have a position on the ownership structure of Channel 4. ”
Elsewhere in the broad conversation, Davie also shared his take on this year’s RTS convention theme, “Broadcast Britain,” which set the tone for an exploration of the “britishness” of the local broadcasting landscape.
Davie observed that the ‘Britishness’ narrative can be problematic when it gets into ‘the fun and games with waving flags’. Instead, he should focus on what the UK is doing differently.
“We’re great storytellers in the UK, we know that,” Davie said. “We tell stories. We have an incredible heritage that has a global heritage. But we need to focus on what we’re doing differently.
The executive also suggested that some changes may be underway for streaming service BritBox, the company’s joint streaming service with ITV, which was first launched in the US before expanding to the UK. United, Australia and, more recently, South Africa.
“It’s profitable, growing, and its size is relative now,” Davie said. “It offers opportunities, but I think we’re at a point where we have choices.”