Tim Davie has admitted the BBC does not deliver ‘equally’ to everyone in the UK, saying metropolitan organisations can feel ‘distant’ from some parts of the population.
In a frank discussion yesterday, the new BBC director-general added some parts of the country ‘don’t necessarily feel the broadcaster is for them’.
The BBC boss, speaking at a Royal Television Society talk, added the corporation should ‘renew our vows’ on impartiality, prioritising its ‘bigger purpose’ and avoiding chasing Twitter followers by being ‘outrageous.’
This comes as Mr Davie yesterday admitted stripping millions of over-75s of their free TV licences is ‘not a great look’ for the corporation.
In a frank talk yesterday, new BBC director-general Tim Davie said some parts of the country ‘don’t necessarily feel the broadcaster is for them’
Mr Davie defended the decision to make more than three million households pay the £157.50 charge, as Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg yesterday accused the corporation of ‘stealing the Ovaltine from pensioners’ night-time drink’.
The new BBC boss, who took up the role at the start of the month, said ‘no-one wants to be charging people money they were not paying’ but said although it had been a tough decision he backed the move.
Mr Davie added if bosses at the broadcaster did not deliver on diversity levels they will not progress at the BBC.
When he was asked if there were ‘underserved’ audiences, he replied: ‘Absolutely. But the BBC doesn’t deliver equally to everyone.’ He added there were ‘certain bits of the country’, not just because of age, ‘that don’t necessarily feel the BBC is for them’.
He said: ‘It’s not as simple, by the way, as saying its under-35s. It’s often about your life circumstances, where you are, where you live.’
Mr Davie added: ‘There are audiences in a diverse Britain that feel a little bit further away from us.’
He said: ‘I do think there’s something about metropolitan-based organisations, or the way you hire, than can somewhat feel a bit distant from some of the population.’
His comments come as yesterday in the Commons, Mr Rees-Mogg turned fire on the BBC over its decision on over-75s TV licences.
Fewer families are buying TV licences, according to BBC’s annual report published this week
Speaking during business questions, he said the corporation had been ‘unfair on pensioners’ as he accused them of charging ‘the least well-off’ in society to pay for ‘some of the mostwell 0ff’ – its highly paid stars.
This week the BBC released its talent pay disclosures which showed a host of top stars being handed huge pay deals. Gary Linker was the top earner on about £1.75m and Radio 2 star Zoe Ball was second on about £1.36 million.
There is still huge anger at the introduction of the new over-75s scheme, introduced in August, which restricts free TV licences to only those on pension credit.
Mr Davie said yesterday: ‘No-one wants to be charging people money they were not paying, it’s not a great look. And no-one believes that is an easy thing to do.’
He added: ‘We do think we’ve made a fair decision, balancing a properly funded BBC with those who have some ability to pay. It’s a really tough thing, we never asked for it, but that’s where we are and I am supportive of where we stand.’
But Tory backbencher Sir David Amess yesterday said in the Commons that high pay for BBC stars was ‘outrageous and shameful’ given the change.
He added: ‘£1.75 million, £1.3 million, just to mention two – and for what? And yet the BBC has got the audacity now to charge 75-year-olds for the licence fee.
‘These salaries are outrageous and shameful and it’s about time the Government put an end to it.’
During the Royal Television Society talk Mr Davie expanded on his vision for the future of the BBC.
He said the corporation should stop trying to compete with global giants like Netflix and said equal pay ‘on my watch’ would be ‘absolutely mandatory’.
Saying the corporation needed to ‘renew our vows a little bit’ on impartiality, he added: ‘I know that you could probably get, short-term, more Twitter followers by being outrageous. But actually there’s something a bigger purpose here and longer term it will put us in a stronger position.’
He reiterated his earlier comments that if people were not ‘passionate’ about impartiality they were ‘in the wrong place’.