New BBC chief’s war on bias and pointless bosses
THE BBC’s new directorgeneral is set to target bloated management and tighten rules on impartiality as he reforms the corporation ‘ with urgency’ to survive ‘in this digital age’.
Tim Davie, who began his new job in jeans and trainers yesterday, plans to wield the axe in order to focus spending on the corporation’s programmes themselves.
Sources said bosses will be expected to justify their positions – and those who fail to do so face the chop.
Mr Davie’s plans also reportedly include steps to prevent the BBC from being viewed as a campaigning organisation. The broadcaster has faced increased criticism that it has become dominated by a ‘woke’ Left-wing agenda.
In his opening email to staff, Mr Davie, 53, stressed yesterday that the corporation must represent ‘every part of this country’. Having spent his first day in charge meeting workers at BBC Scotland in Glasgow, he will lay out his plans in more detail in a speech to staff tomorrow.
Mr Davie takes over as the BBC faces battles on several fronts, from rows over the licence fee to competition from US giants Netflix, Amazon and Disney. A source said of Mr Davie’s planned staff cull: ‘We need to ensure that the running of the BBC is as lean and effective as possible and that we maximise value to the public who pay for us.’ The last BBC annual report revealed it has 250 ‘ senior leaders’ on £50,000 or more.
Mr Davie himself had been due to receive £525,000 a year but has taken a ‘salary standstill’ until August 2021. Until then he will be paid a mere £ 450,000 – the same as his predecessor Tony Hall.
This represents a considerable step down from the new director-general’s previous role as head of the corporation’s commercial arm, BBC Studios, which saw him paid £600,000 in base salary and bonuses.
A poll commissioned by the Mail last week found that more than half of respondents think the BBC is too politically correct. A similar proportion said it does not reflect their values. Impartiality is known to be one of Mr Davie’s priorities, and he is expected to take a tougher line than his predecessor. BBC journalists face a crackdown on their use of social media, as well as lucrative outside work.
Stars could be forced to declare their non-BBC earnings in an attempt to shame them from taking on other jobs that could compromise the broadcaster’s reputation.
Mr Davie also plans to target ‘BBC bloke’ by pursuing more sports programming, after the corporation broadcast its first live cricket match for 21 years last weekend. The BBC hopes to strike deals by pointing to its wider audiences compared with rivals such as Sky and BT.
In his email to staff, Mr Davie wrote: ‘Overall my guiding principle is that we are a universal public service, a BBC for all, that serves and represents every part of this country.
‘Our focus must be to ensure that we deliver outstanding and unique value to all audiences, those who pay for us and are in effect our customers, in return for their licence fee.
‘To do this we will need to keep reforming the BBC with urgency so that we are trusted, relevant and indispensable in this digital age. Your work is admired... across the world. I am here to ensure that continues.’ His comments came after the Mail’s poll found that 67 per cent believe that online rivals have made the BBC ‘ less relevant’. Some 71 per cent said the licence fee is ‘outdated’, while 65 per cent said it should be scrapped.
Amid outcry over the decision to drop the lyrics to Land of Hope and Glory and Rule Britannia on the Last Night of the Proms, 59 per cent said the BBC had got it wrong – rising to 80 per cent among over-65s.
‘Represent every part of this country’