“I do not want a subscription BBC that serves the few. We could make a decent business out of it, and I suspect it could do quite well in certain postcodes, but it would make us just another media company serving a specific group,” Davie said in his first address to staff on Thursday.
“So we must act now to secure our future and ensure that more people feel the BBC is for them,” Davie added. “We all recognize when someone says ‘I would pay my license fee for Radio 4, for ‘Strictly,’ or for the website.’ But this kind of connection is under pressure and cannot be taken for granted. Across the U.K., across all political views, across all of society, and across all age groups, people must feel their BBC is here for them, not for us.”
He warned employees that they can no longer take the future of the org for granted. Davie said that while the corporation remains undeniably relevant to the U.K. public, there is no room for complacency and there is “significant risk.”
“If current trends continue we will not feel indispensable enough to all our audience,” Davie said. “We must evolve to protect what we cherish.”
“The evidence is unequivocal: the future of a universal BBC can no longer be taken for granted. We have no inalienable right to exist. We are only as good as the value we deliver our audiences, our customers. We must grow that value. That is our simple mission,” Davie said.
Davie flagged four priorities for the future: a renewed commitment to impartiality; creating unique, high-impact content; extracting more from online; and building commercial income.
“Looking to the future, and at the success of initiatives like Britbox in the U.S., there are big opportunities to develop direct-to-consumer services in news, video and audio across the globe. 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,” Davie said. “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.”
Speaking about the corporation’s diversity goals, Davie said: “Our ambition is to create an organization 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.”
The commitment to 20% BAME staff is 5% more than the 15% stated commitment during Hall’s regime.
Davie also confirmed the reduction of 900 jobs from the service, creating a “leaner organization” because of “pressure to keep focusing our money on audiences.”
“We will keep a focus on cost reduction – so BBC U.K. public service headcount will be smaller. We will deliver agreed changes in News and Nations & Regions – a reduction of 900 roles – and look across the BBC to further reduce duplication, layers and overheads,” Davie said.
“This does not mean that we are not growing elsewhere,” Davie said. “Our commercial Studios business is investing in new jobs, for instance, where we are winning work in areas like Natural History.” He said that the BBC’s public service headcount had actually increased over the last three years.