Jan 14, 2021

New BBC chair ready for fight with streaming rivals

The incoming chair of the BBC said the broadcaster risks becoming a mouse that will be crushed by the "Elephants" of the global media industry unless it shrewdly marshals its resources for a digital age. "If you stood back and realised the power of Tencent, Baidu, Apple and Amazon and looked at the BBC on its own, you would say it is severely challenged and threatened," Mr Sharp told parliament's digital, culture, media and sport committee. On some of the most contentious issues regarding the BBC's future and editorial balance, Mr Sharp barely diverged from the public broadcaster's longstanding house view and the priorities of its new director-general Tim Davie. Mr Sharp notably backed the licence fee as the "Least worst" option for collecting the BBC's £3.7bn in annual public funding, opposed decriminalisation of non-payment of the £157.50 charge and rejected suggestions of BBC bias during the Brexit referendum. Some of his most outspoken remarks addressed the competition posed by social media and tech platforms, and the need for BBC to position itself for streaming wars - a momentous "Battle for wallets and for time" that was still in its early stages.

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