John Smith today announced that he has decided to step down after eight years as Chief Executive Officer of BBC Worldwide.
John Smith to step down as CEO, BBC Worldwide, after eight years of record growth
Tim Davie, currently Director of BBC Audio & Music, announced as Smith’s successor
Under Smith’s leadership, the BBC’s commercial arm has grown into a major global media company, doubling its revenue, growing profits four-fold, almost tripling margins and returning more than £1.3 billion to the BBC.
Smith, who has helped turn Doctor Who, Top Gear and Dancing With The Stars into global franchises and recently unveiled profits of £155 million in the last financial year, told staff he is leaving the BBC to pursue new opportunities in the commercial sector.
Following Smith’s decision, BBC Director-General George Entwistle announced that Tim Davie, the BBC’s Director of Audio & Music, will succeed Smith as CEO of BBC Worldwide from 1 December.
Smith’s tenure has produced remarkable results. BBC Worldwide has become the world’s largest owner of TV channels and the largest TV distributor outside of US companies. The channels operation now attracts over 360 million subscribers around the world to its BBC-branded portfolio of channels. He has created new relationships with UK independent TV producers and set up an international production business producing Dancing With The Stars as well as other TV formats. He has brought the website BBC.com into profit one year ahead of schedule and successfully launched the BBC’s new commercial Global iPlayer in 16 countries.
Prior to this, Smith was the BBC’s Chief Operating Officer and Finance Director, and is responsible for the transformation of the BBC’s property estate, including New Broadcasting House in W1.
BBC Director-General, George Entwistle, said: “I want to thank John for his enormous contribution to the success of BBC Worldwide in recent years. He has turned the company into a truly global phenomenon delivering a fantastic financial injection into the BBC every year. He leaves the company ideally set up for the future challenges it faces in a digital world.”
On the appointment of Tim Davie, Entwistle added: “Tim has done an excellent job leading the BBC Audio & Music division and has a fantastic vision for the opportunities that lie ahead for BBC Worldwide. Building on John’s success Tim will now take the BBC’s commercial arm into the next chapter of its development. I am delighted he will be joining the team at this crucial time.”
John Smith said: “It has been a huge privilege to lead this powerful business, owned by the BBC that does so much to supplement the licence fee income and takes the BBC brand to audiences around the world. I am extremely proud of what we have achieved over the last eight years but I am excited to be moving on to new opportunities in the commercial world as our revenue and profits reach record highs.”
Tim Davie said: “BBC Worldwide is an outstanding business that plays a unique role in building the BBC’s global reputation and it is an honour to be asked to lead it. John’s legacy is a company with a strong performance record, leadership in digital and rising international creative exports. I look forward to leading BBC Worldwide through its next phase of growth, delivering further dividends to the BBC and championing great British content around the world.”
Tim Davie has been the BBC’s Director of Audio & Music since 2008, before which he was Director of the BBC's Marketing, Communications & Audiences division from April 2005 and Vice President, Marketing and Franchise, PepsiCo Europe, where he managed business franchises across 10 international markets, as well as overseeing global brand marketing outside North America.
In his current role he has overall responsibility for BBC Radios 1, 2, 3, 4 and the BBC digital radio stations 1Xtra, 6Music, BBC 4Extra and the Asian Network, as well as overseeing the three BBC orchestras in England, the BBC Singers, the BBC Proms and leading the BBC’s music output on television and online.
Under Tim’s leadership, BBC Radio has attracted record numbers of listeners - and helped make UK radio more popular than ever - whilst delivering ambitious, high-quality programming and driving digital innovation. Tim has also been Chairman of Freesat and was a board member for the launch of Freeview.
BBC Worldwide Limited is the main commercial arm and a wholly owned subsidiary of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). The company exists to exploit the value of the BBC’s assets for the benefit of the licence fee payer and invest in public service programming in return for rights. The company has five core businesses: Channels, Content & Production, Sales & Distribution, Consumer Products and Global Brands. In 2011/12, BBC Worldwide generated headline profits of £155 million on headline sales of £1085 million and returned £216 million to the BBC. For more detailed performance information please see our Annual Review website.