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BBC merges Worldwide, Studios

The BBC is merging its Studios division and BBC Worldwide (BBCWW) into a single commercial organisation.

Tim Davie

The new entity, called BBC Studios, will bring the UK pubcaster’s programme production, sales and distribution together under one roof.

BBCWW’s commercial activities, including content financing, sales and international commercial channels, will join the pubcaster’s main production arm.

The new BBC Studios will be led by CEO Tim Davie, currently CEO of BBCWW. Mark Linsey, the current director of BBC Studios, will be chief creative officer.

The restructure follows the decision to relax production quotas and run the BBC’s in-house production as a commercial business, capable of competing for commissions from rival broadcasters, which was first mooted in 2015.

Mark Linsey

Studios and BBCWW already work together on shows such Blue Planet II, which is produced by Studios but three-quarters funded by BBCWW and partners. The corporation said today that joining the two units together officially will allow them to operate more simply and efficiently.

It will also bring the Beeb in line with established UK industry players such as Sky and ITV which integrate their programme production and distribution in this way.

BBC Studios’ output also includes Strictly Come Dancing, Antiques Roadshow, EastEnders, Top Gear, award-winning drama Three Girls, Louis Theroux’s latest documentary series and Drugsland on BBC3.

BBCWW has returned almost £1bn (US$1.5bn) to the BBC in the past five years and has investments in production outfits including Lookout Point, Expectation and House Productions.

BBC director-general Tony Hall said: “In a fast-changing TV industry, securing the future success of the BBC is vital.

“Creating a single BBC Studios will bring the BBC in line with the industry, be simpler and more efficient. It will help ensure that licence fee payers in the UK continue to receive outstanding British programmes which reflect British lives long into the future.

“It will also ensure the BBC can continue to play its crucial role in supporting the successful UK creative economy.”

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