The new BBC director-general faces an unprecedented challenge

Editorial: It is a dangerous moment, given how much tension there has been between the government and public service broadcasters

Friday 05 June 2020 19:28
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Tim Davie has shown he has editorial decisiveness
Tim Davie has shown he has editorial decisiveness

For its 17th director-general, the British Broadcasting Corporation has chosen Tim Davie. As many were quick to point out, he is, like his predecessors, a white male from a fairly conventional background. It is difficult to believe that, whatever Mr Davie’s virtues, there was no woman and no person of colour who could have taken on the role. Especially in the current climate, it is, in that respect, a disappointing appointment.

Every DG is greeted with warnings about his taking over at an unprecedentedly difficult time with insuperable challenges and a hostile government. Sometimes it has been true, but right now Mr Davie faces genuinely existential problems for the future health of what remains one of the UK’s truly global brands. Mr Davie will have to prepare for the negotiations with ministers on a new BBC charter, due to begin in 2027. His background in Conservative politics may do him no harm in those talks.

It is a dangerous moment, given how much tension there has been between the government and public service broadcasters. But the BBC is a precious asset for post-Brexit so-called Global Britain. To borrow a fashionable phrase, it is a “world-beating” institution in its journalism, its creativity and, indeed, in the value for money the licence fee represents.

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