BBC launches desperate bid to raise funds in America – ‘Need to be radically different’

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Tim Davie, the BBC’s Director-General, has spoken of his ambitions to expand the BBC across the pond. The BBC chief, who has only been in the role for six months, said he is interested in launching premium products in the US as a way of raising revenues.

Speaking to MPs on the Public Accounts Committee, Mr Davie said there is “real potential” for the BBC to expand commercially in the US.

He said: “I have said publicly I’m interested in what are the potential for further premium products in the States, like news, like other things where we can look straight to consumer and use digital to get more revenue.

“I think that remains an exciting area of opportunity.”

The BBC boss also sought to differentiate the BBC from popular streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime.

He said the corporation’s role “is not to beat Netflix”, as the BBC has an entirely “different purpose”.

Mr Davie told MPs: “We are differently shaped. We always have sat alongside competitors.

“The issue is the BBC needs to be highly distinctive, whether that be Bitesize education provision, locally made drama.

“I remain optimistic that we can retain reach and retain our value.”

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He added the BBC needed to “do something radically different” but said the corporation is coming from a different standpoint to streaming services.

The BBC boss said: “We are not trying to make a paid subscription business work.

“We have a different purpose. I’m not running a business for profit, I’m running… an organisation for purpose.”

Mr Davie reiterated his commitment to the annual TV licence fee and his opposition to introducing a subscription model.

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Last month he claimed the BBC would cost £400-a-year if it were to operate like Netflix.

The BBC arrived at the sum by adding the average cost of Netflix, Amazon and other streaming services that offer a mix of drama, entertainment and documentaries; music services such as Spotify; and premium online news services.

They said: “Taken together, a bundle of subscriptions providing advertising-free, high-quality services comparable with those offered by the BBC across video, audio and news would cost over £400 per year in comparison to a current licence fee of £157.50.”

During the committee session, the BBC’s chief operating officer, Glyn Isherwood, revealed the broadcaster had generated more than £400million in income this year from the over-75s.

It comes after the BBC stopped allowing pensioners to watch its content for free.

From August 1, people aged over 75 were no longer entitled to receive a free TV licence, unless in receipt of Pension Credit.

Mr Isherwood said implementing the new policy has cost £65 million.

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