BBC in desperate bid to save licence fee – creates new PR role to help negotiations

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In the new role, the candidate will head the broadcaster’s corporate and public affairs strategy in order to stop the number of people dropping the licence fee. The person will also report directly to the director-general Tim Davie who took up the role last month, taking over from Lord Tony Hall. This new role will use their position to build links with MPs to inform them of the importance of a reasonable and sustainable licence fee.

According to PR Week, the new role is needed to respond to the increased level of scrutiny over the BBC’s content and uproar over the removal of the free over-75 licence.

The corporation is allegedly looking for someone who is an “excellent communicator”.

Indeed, the BBC said: “We need someone to respond confidently to scrutiny and engage stakeholders with its vision for the future of public service broadcasting.”

From August 1, the BBC removed the free over-75 licence fee despite criticism from many many groups such as Age UK.

This means more than three million households will have started paying the £157.50 fee.

The public affair role will be modelled on the former position held by former Labour MP and minister, James Purnell.

Mr Purnell held the role of director strategy and digital in 2013 prior to the licence fee negotiations with the Government.

Applications have now closed for the position ahead of an appointment in the coming months.

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The new position is especially crucial as the licence fee will be negotiated with the Government next year.

Once negotiated, it will then be put in place in 2022 before a wide review of its Royal Charter in 2027.

Since taking over the role, the director-general has pledged to remodel the broadcaster amid intense scrutiny.

During a debate with TV regulator, Ofcom, Mr Davie admitted the BBC had failed to reach certain areas of the country.

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He said: “I get a sense in our research that there are certain people who do not connect with us. Is the BBC for me?’

“That’s about out of London, it’s about programming choices, who speaks for us, who we put up in the newsroom.

“All those things need modernising to represent what is a more diverse Britain.”

Amid the accusations of bias from both sides of the political spectrum, Mr Davie told a Parliament select committee last month, the broadcaster would be drawing up strict impartiality guidelines.

The new guidelines would enable the BBC to suspend the social media accounts of its staff if they breach impartiality rules.

He said: “We are going to be publishing in the next few weeks, and this is imminent, clear social media guidelines, and they will cover both news and current affairs, and beyond news and current affairs.

“We will have, within those guidelines, the enforcement policies will be very clear.

“We will be able to take disciplinary action. We will be able to take people off Twitter. I know people want to see hard action on this.”

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