New director-general Tim Davie says BBC must be ‘universal public service’

Alex Green, PA Entertainment Reporter
·2-min read

The new director-general of the BBC has said the corporation needs to keep reforming “with urgency” and stressed it must be “a universal public service” as he arrived for his first day in the job dressed in jeans.

Tim Davie, the former chief executive of commercial arm BBC Studios, has replaced Lord Tony Hall in the role and is spending his first day meeting staff at BBC Scotland in Glasgow.

In a message sent to all staff, he said it was a “tremendous honour” to take on the role and confirmed he will be laying out priorities for the future on Thursday.

He added: “Overall my guiding principle is that we are a universal public service, a BBC for all, that serves and represents every part of this country.

“Our focus must be to ensure that we deliver outstanding and unique value to all audiences, those who pay for us and are in effect our customers, in return for their licence fee.

BBC Director General
Tim Davie arriving in Glasgow (Andrew Milligan/PA)

“To do this we will need to keep reforming the BBC with urgency so that we are trusted, relevant and indispensable in this digital age.

“While we do face challenges, the senior team and I are incredibly proud to be leading this organisation and supporting you. 

“We are an organisation that matters, and your work is admired for its creative brilliance, outstanding journalism and much more across the world.  

“I am here to ensure that continues.”

BBC Director General
He took off his mask as he got out of the car (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Davie arrived by taxi at the corporation’s Glasgow headquarters on Tuesday morning and walked swiftly inside, not responding to questions from the PA news agency.

He takes over the job from Lord Hall, who spent seven years in the role, amid a turbulent time for the BBC.

The broadcaster faces scrutiny over equal pay, diversity, free TV licences for the over-75s and competition from streaming services such as Netflix, as well as the on-going coronavirus crisis.

Edinburgh TV Festival
The BBC’s outgoing director-general Lord Tony Hall (Justin Tallis/PA)

Davie was acting director-general for four months following George Entwistle’s resignation in November 2012 before Lord Hall’s appointment, and previously served as the corporation’s head of audio.

Before joining the BBC in 2005, he worked in marketing.

Davie starts as the BBC hit controversy over the decision to play orchestral versions of Rule, Britannia! and Land Of Hope And Glory at the Last Night Of The Proms.

The BBC is also expecting to receive a report into the use of social media by its staff, including presenters, written by Richard Sambrook.