BBC Appoints Tim Davie as Director General, Succeeding Tony Hall

BBC Apoints Tim Davie as Director

The BBC has appointed BBC Studios CEO and ex-marketing maven Tim Davie as the successor to Tony Hall.

Davie is an experienced BBC operator and is believed to have been interviewed formally in the last week for the role, alongside the other internal candidate, director of content Charlotte Moore.

Hall announced his decision to stand down in January and throughout the appointments process, Davie, briefly acting as director general in 2012, has been the front runner.

Davie — who is now responsible for the creative, editorial and operational leadership of the BBC within the U.K. and around the world — will officially take over the role from Sept. 1.

He becomes the 17th director general of the BBC, with an annual salary set at £525,000 ($663,000). The BBC has said the role’s remuneration has not risen since 2012 and that “this is the level the salary would have been had inflation been applied.”

Davie has agreed to take a salary stand-still of £450,000 ($568,000) — the salary Hall was paid — until August 2021, in line with a management-wide salary freeze. The executive has taken a salary cut for the top job at the BBC, having been paid £600,000 ($757,000) as CEO of BBC Studios — a figure that reflects base salary and performance bonus.

“I am honored to be appointed the BBC’s next Director-General. This has been a critical time for the UK and these past few months have shown just how much the BBC matters to people,” said Davie. “Our mission has never been more relevant, important or necessary. I have a deep commitment to content of the highest quality and impartiality

“Looking forward, we will need to accelerate change so that we serve all our audiences in this fast-moving world. Much great work has been done, but we will continue to reform, make clear choices and stay relevant. I am very confident we can do this because of the amazing teams of people that work at the BBC,” Davie continued.

Davie’s commercial experience both at the BBC, which he joined in 2005, and in his previous role as a marketing executive at Pepsi, positioned him in good stead to see off competition from the other candidates, which included Doug Gurr, the New Zealand-born head of Amazon’s U.K. and Ireland operations.

Will Lewis, a former editor of the Daily Telegraph and ex-CEO and publisher of the Wall Street Journal, was also in the running but his chances were scuppered following accusations in the British High Court that he aided the concealment and destruction of millions of emails relating to phone hacking at the Murdoch-owned U.K. newspapers, the News of the World and the Sun.

Davie, well liked internally, became CEO of BBC Studios in April 2018. He was previously CEO of BBC Worldwide and Director of Global from April 2013, where he was a regular high-profile BBC presence at international markets.

He proved himself to be an adept communicator when he was acting director general from November 2012 until April 2013.

Davie stepped into the breech following the disastrous appointment of George Entwistle, who failed to show credible leadership skills as a crisis engulfed the BBC following revelations of serial sex crimes by the late BBC presenter Jimmy Savile.

As well as being effectively the BBC’s chief sales person, Davie has run the corporation’s Audio & Music network, with responsibility for the BBC’s national radio services including Radios 1, 2, 3, 4 and its digital services.

While the BBC’s domestic credibility has soared during the COVID-19 crisis as U.K. audiences have relied on BBC news and public affairs shows, observers think that once the pandemic begins to wane, tough questions concerning the BBC’s funding will once again begin to be asked.

In this context, Davie’s commercial acumen will be an asset as the corporation seeks to beef up revenues from beyond the compulsory U.K. license fee that pays for the bulk of its U.K. services. However, Davie does lack the journalistic experience that his predecessors have brought to the director general role, and will in turn need to rely heavily on Fran Unsworth, who oversees the BBC’s news and current affairs operation.

Davie will need no reminding that the BBC will need to act nimbly to compete effectively against the streaming giants, the real winners of the global health crisis.

Another big challenge for Hall’s successor is persuading young people to use the Beeb’s services.

David Clementi, chairman of the BBC Board, described Davie as “one of the most respected names in the industry.”

“His leadership and experience, both outside the BBC and within, will ensure that we are well placed to meet the opportunities and challenges of the coming years. Tim has an enthusiasm and energy for reform, while holding dear to the core mission of the BBC,” said Clementi, who will himself step down as chairman in February.

“We know that the industry is undergoing unprecedented change and the organization faces significant challenges as well as opportunities. I am confident that Tim is the right person to lead the BBC as it continues to reform and change.”