Tim Davie, the BBC’s new director general, has said he doesn’t support any switch from the licence fee to a subscription model.
In his first speech since taking over, Davie said “For the avoidance of doubt, I do not want a subscription BBC that serves the few. We could make a decent business out of it, and I suspect it could do quite well in certain postcodes, but it would make us just another media company serving a specific group.”
Describing the BBC as “a brilliant national success”, he said, during the speech in Cardiff. that: “We all recognise when someone says, ‘I would pay my licence fee for Radio 4, for Strictly, or for the website’. But this kind of connection is under pressure and cannot be taken for granted. Across the UK, across all political views, across all of society, and across all age groups, people must feel their BBC is here for them, not for us.”
Davie warned that the BBC currently faces a “significant risk” and has “no inalienable right to exist”.
He added, during the speech in Cardiff, that: “If current trends continue, we will not feel indispensable enough to all our audience. We must evolve to protect what we cherish.”
Davie ruled out shutting TV channels or radio networks in the short term – but said he would “not hesitate to close channels if they do not offer value to our audiences”.
The licence fee is currently guaranteed until 2027, but there is much debate about the BBC’s funding beyond that.