The BBC is to merge BBC Studios and BBC Worldwide, bring together the corporation’s production, sales and distribution operations into a single commercial entity called BBC Studios.
The current boss of BBC Worldwide, Tim Davie, becomes Chief Executive Officer of BBC Studios. Mark Linsey, who now runs BBC Studios, has been named as Chief Creative Officer. The new BBC Studios will begin trading on April 1, 2018.
The BBC said that a time of an increasingly competitive and global market, the new organisational structure will bring the BBC into line with the rest of the industry where production and distribution operations are combined.
BBC Director-General Tony Hall said: “In a fast-changing TV industry, securing the future success of the BBC is vital. Creating a single BBC Studios will bring the BBC in line with the industry, be simpler and more efficient. It will help ensure that licence fee payers in the UK continue to receive outstanding British programmes which reflect British lives, long into the future.”
The new BBC Studios will have a single business plan and will be set up and managed with two divisions, Production and Sales & Distribution, along with a central HQ function. The change has been approved by the BBC Board.
BBC Studios and BBC Worldwide already work together closely – such as on current hit Blue Planet II which is produced by BBC Studios but which is over three quarters funded by BBC Worldwide and partners.
Explaining the move, the BBC noted that the TV industry has been changing fast and major global players are investing vast sums in content – but not primarily in British content reflecting British lives. Recent research by consultants Mediatique earlier this month forecast that spending on British programming could fall in real terms by £500m over the next decade – posing a risk to the volume and breadth of British content available. The BBC argues that a successful new BBC Studios will be better placed to make the investments others will not.
Tim Davie said: “Creating one company, in line with market norms, is a natural step in this market. The new BBC Studios will be focused on the highest quality British content, underpinning our future financial return to licence fee payers. It will allow us to better serve customers, indie partners and the wider industry, resulting in world-class British productions for audiences in the UK and overseas.
In 2016/17 BBC Worldwide generated profits of £157.3m and sales of £1,059.9m and returned £210.5m to the BBC. The new, integrated, company will continue to invest in third party production companies and distribute non-BBC content.
BBC Studios launched as a commercial subsidiary on April 3, 2017, and makes over 2,000 hours of programming a year. As well as producing programmes for the BBC, it also competes to make programmes for other broadcasters. Its credits include Blue Planet II, Strictly Come Dancing and EastEnders.
Following the restructure, the combined companies will employ approximately 3,000 permanent staff, along with six production bases in the UK, a further seven wholly-owned and production partnerships internationally, and operations in 22 markets.
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