BBC boss urges Government to consider ‘high stakes’ before funding decisions

BBC director-general Tim Davie said there was “a lot at stake” as the government pondered the future of the channel’s funding model.

It comes after Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries announced earlier this year that the company’s royalties will be frozen for the next two years.

The minister said she wants to find a new funding model before the current deal expires in 2027 as it is “completely outdated”.

Speaking at the Deloitte media and telecoms conference, Mr Davie warned that when the government debates the BBC’s future, it needs to consider what kind of broadcasting environment it wants in the UK.

He said: “Listen to the public. What are we? Storytellers, a democracy. My biggest thing is that the stakes are very high.

“We’re not trying to be Netflix, we’re trying to be the BBC.

“I believe we will still offer good value for money on the license fee.

“We have some decisions to make. I think we will continue to provide a great service.”


Culture Minister Nadine Dorries said the BBC’s current funding model was “completely outdated” (Aaron Chown/PA)

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On the subject of “levelling”, the BBC boss said the channel’s biggest challenge is staying “relevant”.

“It’s in our best interests. We want to be relevant, our biggest challenge is staying relevant,” he said.

“Our biggest challenge at the BBC is ‘Are we relevant?’

“Storytelling from the ground up… we’re very focused on kicking money out, kicking people out.

“It’s all about local economic growth – we’re very optimistic about that.”

Similarly, Channel 4 boss Alex Mahon said: “Audience wants UK content. It’s about how we evolve our business to achieve that.

“The reason the landscape is so strong is because of the competitiveness that we have here.

“In recent years we have focused on how we can make a difference outside of London.”

Earlier this week, the Queen’s speech at the State Opening of Parliament contained the Government’s proposed Media Bill, outlining its intention to privatize Channel 4.

The channel recently unveiled its alternative privatization plan, with proposals that included “leveling” it to become more “northern” with the majority of the workforce being based outside of London.


Channel 4 CEO Alex Mahon said audiences want UK content (Yui Mok/PA)

Around 300 posts are already based outside of London and under the plan, first presented to the government earlier this year, the number is expected to increase to 600 by 2025.

Also during the conference, Ofcom chief Dame Melanie Dawes addressed plans for media regulators to regulate streaming platforms – cemented with the release of the government’s broadcasting white paper in April.

Under the legislation, Ofcom will be empowered to draft and enforce a new video-on-demand code aimed at setting standards for larger TV-like services such as Netflix, ITV Hub and Now TV.

Dame Melanie said: “I really believe that good regulation creates a level playing field that allows the market to function.

“It’s really clear that our viewing habits – all of us, mine have changed massively, especially during the pandemic – are changing tremendously, even more so when you look at younger viewers which is driving change.

“You’re already seeing companies making the move to digital content – Channel 4, for example, is making great strides in making that leap.”

Dame Melanie added that Ofcom’s newly appointed chairman Lord Grade is “really enjoying himself” in his new role.


Ofcom chairman Lord Grade is said to be ‘really enjoying himself’ in his new role (Peter Byrne/PA)

She said: “He hit the ground running last week, we talk all the time.

“It’s fair to say he’s really enjoying himself, he’s stuck.

“I am delighted to be working with someone with so much experience. I’m very optimistic about Ofcom.”

Conservative peer Lord Grade, 79, a former television executive, was appointed until April 2026. BBC boss urges Government to consider ‘high stakes’ before funding decisions

Fry Electronics Team

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