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A BBC Without Broadcast?

“In this world relevance, like trust, has to be earned”

Will the day come when the British Broadcasting Corporation stops broadcasting? 

BBC Director-General Tim Davie said, “A switch-off of broadcast will and should happen over time, and we should be active in planning for it.”

As reported recently on the Radio World website by our contributor Carter Ross, Davie delivered a speech before the Royal Television Society in which he noted that consumers are awash with choices from traditional broadcast and new streaming services.

A TV license fee has traditionally funded the bulk of BBC operations but Davie said a change to its traditional model is necessary. While he was talking only about the BBC, his remarks should prompt thinking by any serious-minded person working in media.

“I sometimes read that the BBC needs to clock that the world has changed. I can assure you that we do not need convincing. The internet has stripped away the historical distribution advantage of having half of the TV channels or FM frequencies. In this world relevance, like trust, has to be earned,” he said. 

In Davie’s vision, Ross reported, the United Kingdom and the BBC must begin work to prepare for an internet-only future. This will involve ensuring every British household is connected via fixed-line broadband and full national 4G/5G wireless coverage. “A fully connected UK has very significant benefits for society and our economy. It would unleash huge opportunities for innovation,” he said.

Davie went on to say the BCC needs to avoid creating “derivative or niche content” and instead work to ensure “maximum relevance for our core output.” 

He said there would be more consolidation of programming and brand identity. “We are working on how an IP BBC could be the best version of the BBC shaped around people’s interests and needs. … Within the BBC this means significant change. We will have fewer brands overall, and consolidate more activity behind a simple, single brand in the U.K.: the BBC.”

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