NEW BBC DG ‘MUST CONSIDER ALTERNATIVE FUNDING MODELS’: Gordon Rayner (Telegraph 31/8), quoting Whitehall and ministerial sources, said that Tim Davie, the new BBC director general, had been told to come up with a ‘palatable’ replacement for the licence fee by 2027 when the current BBC Charter ran out, and also that decriminalisation of non-payment of the licence fee – making evasion only liable to civil penalties – was now a ‘done deal’ which will be announced within weeks. Mr Rayner claimed that a minister had also said there was interest in ‘levelling the playing field’ by allowing broadcasting regulator Ofcom to award more licences to commercial rivals. He added that the BBC Licence Fee (Civil Penalty) Bill was due for a second reading in November. Mr Rayner also reported that Mr Davie, in address to staff later in the week, would say that the current licence fee needed to offer better value for money by the BBC connecting properly with all its audiences, by offering fewer repeats and programming that appealed to a wide range of views and backgrounds, rather than just to metropolitan ones.
Helena Kelly (Daily Mail 31/8) following up the Telegraph report above, said that there was ‘real optimism’ in ministerial circles that the BBC could thrive without the fee, and that alternatives being considered were said to be a subscription service similar to Netflix or Amazon Prime. Ms Kelly quoted a BBC spokesman as saying that the licence fee was the way of funding the BBC at least until 2027. Also in the Mail (31/8), Katie Feehan said that an ‘insider’ had claimed that Tim Davie’s immediate priority would be to undo ‘the terrible damage done by Tony (Hall)’ and reverse the decision not to include a sung version of Rule, Britannia in the last night of the proms on September 12. Ms Feehan said a senior BBC source had told her that the proms row was another example of the BBC walking into a ‘completely unnecessary and absurd row’ about culture. It was also report in the Mail that Tim Davie was expected to clamp down on BBC presenters making money by hosting corporate events, and on staff use of social media, especially with regard to comment which could be interpreted as biased.
NEW DG ‘IS NOT STEREOTYPE BBC EXECUTIVE’: Matthew Moore, media correspondent for The Times (£ 31/8), argued that new BBC director general Tim Davie faced an “even more daunting” set of challenges than his predecessor Lord Hall did on Day 1 and that he had “a fight on his hands” due to “dwindling ratings, stretched finances, a hostile government and a suspicious public”. Mr Moore claimed however that Mr Davie did not fit the “north London elite” stereotype of a BBC executive, having a “staunchly suburban” background and “commercial instincts” and added that he “is understood to appreciate that the licence fee is unlikely to continue in its current form after 2027, and will prioritise maximising outside revenues”. Mr Moore opined that it was “savvy” of Tim Davie to “pronounce his ‘deep commitment to impartiality'” in his statement accepting the job, calling it “a clear message to No 10 that he had heard its complaints about the notorious Emily Maitlis Newsnight monologue and other bias rows.”
‘A CONSERVATIVE CHAIRMAN WON”T SAVE BBC’: Nigel Jones (The Critic 30/8), noting that former Telegraph editor Charles Moore and Sunday Times editor Andrew Neil were being cited as possible replacements for Sir David Clementi as chairman of the BBC when he retired in February 2021, argued that Boris Johnson was ‘probably too timid and pusillanimous’ to appoint either man. He added that even if either Tory accepted the ‘Herculean task’ of clearing this particularly noxious stable, they would find themselves on mission impossible without sacking the entire BBC staff and starting from scratch because the poison of leftist wokeism was ‘engrained in the BBC’s very bloodstream’. Mr Jones reported that Margaret Thatcher had similarly hoped that her appointee as chairman, the Conservative Marmaduke Hussey, would sort out the corporation, but he had failed. Claiming that the BBC had long since surrendered any claim to be an impartial national broadcaster, he concluded that a bold and truly conservative government should ‘have the guts’ to pull the plug on the BBC by scrapping the licence fee and leave it to sink or swim, unsupported by a television tax ‘which is reluctantly paid by an increasingly resentful and restive public’.
BLACK BBC STAFF COMPLAIN OF CORPORATION ‘RACISM’: Kurt Zindulka (Breitbart Europe 30/8) said that dozens of current and former black employees of the BBC, speaking to the Huffington Post, had complained of a hostile work environment and ‘covert racism’ within the corporation, despite it being seen as ‘woke’ and disproportionately diverse by most ‘right-leaning Britons’.