Hollywood Reporter

BBC Boss Tim Davie on Market Failure of Public Broadcasters Fsalinks

“I don’t want to be a market failure,” which is “what’s happening around the world” to public service broadcasters, BBC boss Tim Davie told Deloitte’s Media & Telecoms 2024 and Beyond Conference in London on Tuesday. “It’s scary,” he said, speaking of a “red alert situation” in many parts of the world.

Davie in an appearance lauded the U.K. production sector for its success, but also noted that “many decisions we make are uneconomic.” That said, while the goal is to continue making and airing hit shows that audiences enjoy and love, “we don’t have to make the numbers work on every single show” as a public broadcaster to ensure important, educative and other shows make it to the screen, he emphasized.

“We have a rich history of working together” with other companies, Davie said about the BBC, as well as other U.K. public broadcasters. “It is much more about growth” rather than a purely defensive in the age of streamers, he said. “Many decisions we make are the right thing to do but are uneconomic.” So often, partners are needed to make decisions work from a business and financial standpoint.

The executive spoke during a panel of representatives of big U.K. broadcasters addressing TV’s digital age. The participants were Davie, ITV Studios managing director Julian Bellamy, Channel 4 CEO Alex Mahon, and Channel 5 president Sarah Rose.

The BBC needs more partnerships with media, entertainment and technology giants, such as one with the Walt Disney Co. for sci-fi hit show Doctor Who, and change how it does business further in a competitive and polarized world, Davie said in late March in outlining his priorities for the future. He also described the public broadcaster’s core goals as pursuing truth, backing British storytelling, and uniting people. The proactive, but considered, use of AI and “ethical algorithms” is also part of his plans for the BBC.

Early this year, Mahon unveiled a five-year strategy and plan to reshape Channel 4 and “accelerate its transformation into an agile, genuinely digital-first public service streamer by 2030.” Proposing to reduce headcount by 18 percent — including around 200 layoffs and the closure of approximately 40 unfilled roles, the broadcaster emphasized that “around 70 percent of roles closed would be out of legacy operations.” It added: “This would return headcount close to 2021 levels, but with the organization in the right shape to deliver further digital growth and lead public service media into the future.”

Channel 4 CEO Alex Mahon

Courtesy of Channel 4

On Tuesday, Mahon cited “democratic disengagement,” especially by younger people, as one key challenge for public broadcasters.

Bellamy on Tuesday emphasized that the U.K. is the biggest exporter of scripted shows behind the U.S. and a huge creator of unscripted formats. And highlighted how key the support of British creatives by public broadcasters is. For example, Succession creator Jesse Armstrong was “backed for years by Channel 4,” and something similar is true for Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Bellamy said.

Channel 5 is owned by Paramount Global whose stock has been volatile amid continuing talks with suitors, such as David Ellison’s SkyDance Media. The company’s possible sale wasn’t part of Tuesday’s discussion.

BBC,Channel 4,Channel 5,international,ITV,ITV Studios,Tim Davie

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