June 5, 2020 / 10:23 AM / a month ago

BBC appoints insider as new boss to negotiate future finance model

LONDON (Reuters) - The BBC appointed an insider as its new director general on Friday, tasked with securing the future direction and financing of the publicly-funded British broadcaster in the wake of government scepticism of the current model.

FILE PHOTO: A pedestrian walks past a BBC logo at Broadcasting House in central London October 22, 2012. REUTERS/Olivia Harris

Tim Davie, currently head of BBC Studios and responsible for international brand and editorial strategy, will replace Tony Hall at the start of September in the most high-profile broadcasting job in Britain.

He will be editor in chief of Britain’s biggest news provider and lead the country’s most powerful cultural institution at a time when critics say its universal funding model, based on a fee paid by all households, is outdated.

“This has been a critical time for the UK and these past few months have shown just how much the BBC matters to people,” Davie said.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has questioned whether the 98-year-old corporation should be supported by the licence fee, given the growth of subscription services such as Netflix, and many in his Conservative Party have long criticised the BBC for what they perceive to be a left-leaning political bias.

Davie, 53, will oversee a review of the BBC’s funding in 2022 and negotiate the future of the licence fee when its charter is renewed in 2027.

It had an income of more than 5 billion pounds ($6 billion) in the 2019/20 year, with more than 3.5 billion pounds coming from the licence fee.

The BBC’s television, radio and online content reaches 92% of the population, and its news and programmes, such as sci-fi drama “Doctor Who” and natural history documentaries pioneered by David Attenborough, have shaped Britain’s culture.

But in recent years, the Beeb, as it is known in Britain, has come under criticism for awarding extravagant salaries to its stars, paying some women less than men and for what some politicians say is a London-centric bias.

Culture minister Oliver Dowden said he welcomed Davie’s commitment to reform and impartiality.

Davie stepped into the director general role temporarily in 2012 after a broadcast about unfounded sex abuse allegations, in the wake of revelations about famous BBC presenter Jimmy Savile, resulted in the resignation of George Entwistle.

Reporting by Michael Holden; editing by Guy Faulconbridge and Nick Macfie

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