BBC bosses have for the first time indicated they may be open to a change in the corporation’s funding model after 2027.
Director General Tim Davie told a UK House of Lords Committee session on BBC Funding yesterday that he is “open minded” about the future of the £159 ($200) annual fee so long as it doesn’t lose audiences, while chair Richard Sharp said the BBC is prepared to face “existential questions” on the future.
Davie, who countered that there is “jeopardy” in changing the established funding model, said he and Sharp will be involved closely with the UK government’s forthcoming landmark review of the fee, which kicks off next month.
Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries, who recently rubberstamped the sale of Channel 4, has indicated a preference for the BBC to change the way in which it is funded when the charter ends in 2027. She has frozen the licence fee for the next two years, a move that will lose the BBC around £1.5BN ($1.9BN) over the next five years, it says.
Davie praised the licence fee for “successfully delivering on our values over many years” and said the BBC needs to stress its “aggregated offering” to set it apart from the deep-pocketed U.S. streamers.
“If you look at any large media organization, say Disney, they have an aggregated offering and they will have to be dynamic in changing that,” he added. “We have an aggregated offering including radio, local news, sports and entertainment and the challenge for us is to provide value for all. [VoD player] BBC iPlayer is not trying to replicate Netflix.”
Sharp said the BBC is examining data in minute detail to work out how it can better attract underserved audiences, namely young people, people from working class backgrounds and ethnic minorities.
“We see segments where we can do better and data is our friend,” he added. “Value is not a singular yardstick and of course from time to time there will be segments and pockets of society that don’t view us as intimately as we’d like them to. If there are pockets who are not engaging, then we need to look at that as a Board.”