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BBC to axe 900 jobs, promotes Moore

Tim Davie became BBC director general on September 1

Newly installed BBC director general Tim Davie has announced plans to reduce the UK pubcaster’s workforce by 900 in a bid to make it more efficient, while Charlotte Moore has been named as its chief content officer.

Davie, who succeeded Tony Hall on September 1 as head of the world’s biggest public service broadcaster, said the BBC needs to reduce its costs by making its headcount smaller and said the 900 roles will be axed in its news and nations and regions departments.

He added that the BBC would grow elsewhere, pointing to BBC Studios (BBCS) investing in new jobs in areas such as natural history.

Moore, who was previously head of content at the BBC and had been in the running to succeed Hall, has been appointed chief content officer and joined the coporation’s board.

She will be the senior leader for BBC content and audiences across all genres and platforms, with the exception of news and nations and regions.

This includes commissioning for all BBC TV channels and the BBC iPlayer, multi-platform commissioning and production for all children’s and education content.

The BBC said Moore will lead the channel and station controllers and set an editorial strategy that reflects the diversity of all its audiences.

In his introductory speech yesterday, Davie said the BBC needed to reform in order to remain relevant.

Charlotte Moore

“If current trends continue we will not feel indispensable enough to all our audience. We must evolve to protect what we cherish,” said the former boss of BBCS, adding that he did not support turning the pubcaster into a subscription service.

Davie outlined four priorities: to renew the BBC’s commitment to impartiality; to focus on unique, high-impact content; to extract more from online; and to build commercial income.

On content, Davie said the BBC had mistakenly tried to cope with increasing competition from streaming services like Netflix by “making more and spreading ourselves too thinly.”

“Of course, we need to offer a broad choice as the BBC, and we should not retreat to a narrow offer. But we have been too slow to stop things that don’t work. And we duplicate work between different parts of the organisation, not making the most of ideas across one BBC. This limits money for new ideas and for investment into things which are working well,” Davie continued.

“We are going to look in all areas and identify how we can have more impact by making less. I want us to consider what we would do if we could only make 80% of our current hours. What would we stop? To be very clear, this is not about cuts to save money, it is about re-allocating funds to where they generate most value – to ensure that we make our output world-beating and utterly distinctive.”

As for the Beeb’s linear channels, Davie said there are no short-term plans to shut any, after speculation grew earlier this year that BBC4 would be axed, but he also ruled out any new channel launches.

“It would be silly to close the shop windows that showcase our work to millions. But I do think this moment marks the end of linear expansion for the BBC. We will not propose to take any further DAB or traditional TV channel capacity for our services.

“If we want to launch a new offer – and we will consider our options – it would need to use the current space. And as we move further towards an online world, we will not hesitate to close channels if they do not offer value to our audiences.”

On the work of BBCS to grow the pubcaster’s commercial revenue, Davie said it would continue to strike partnerships with international and domestic players.

“Looking to the future, and at the success of initiatives like Britbox in the US, there are big opportunities to develop direct-to-consumer services in news, video and audio across the globe,” he said.

“We need to keep building major partnerships with the likes of FX, Discovery, ITV and Tencent, so we grow as a global provider of services and premium content. Also, we should be open to consider what other areas of the BBC could benefit from a studios model in order to safeguard our supply of content and talent.”

Hall, in his outgoing speech as director general last month, said the corporation should be aiming to reach one billion people around the world by the end of the decade.

Finally, Davie also reiterated the BBC’s ambition to be much more representative of the UK as a whole.

“We can claim, proudly, that we are leading the industry in many areas of diversity and inclusion, but it is simply not enough. The gap between rhetoric and action remains too big. I regret that we have not gone further to create a more diverse and inclusive environment where everyone feels they are treated fairly and given equal opportunities,” said Davie.

“Our ambition is to create an organisation which reflects more accurately the society we serve. That’s 50% women and 50% men, at least 20% Black, Asian and minority ethnic and at least 12% disabled. A modern 50/20/12 organisation. Alongside this, we will deliver plans to build our socioeconomic diversity, as well as ensuring we are truly inclusive for all LGBTQ+ employees.”

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