The BBC published on September 15th its annual report for the 2019-20 financial year. The organization highlighted it had a “strong year” but acknowledged it “must keep reforming at an urgent pace”.
The BBC can take pride in its recent performance. It provides a clear public service, with the organization boasting that 41 million people used it daily on average last year – making it Britain’s “most used” media, in its words. It also managed to decrease its gender pay gap to 6.2% — considerably below the national average though less than the target set a few years before.
The news has certainly been welcomed by the new director general Tim Davie, a longtime executive with a background in marketing, who replaced his predecessor Tony Hall on September 1st this year. Among his first notable actions as director general, Davie tackled accusations of bias, notably by restricting staff ability to post their views on social media.
The BBC has also published salaries of its top earners. Gary Lineker, a sports broadcaster, was the most highly-paid journalist, taking home £1.75m in the last financial year. He has since agreed to take a £400k pay cut which would make his salary roughly equal to that of Zoe Ball, host of a morning show at the BBC.
As the report only encompasses the period before April 2020, it does not reflect the full impact of the corona-crisis, though it does pay attention to BBC’s role during the pandemic.
According to reports, the BBC saw record numbers of people tune in for COVID-19 news – highlighting the importance of public broadcasting models. The annual report underscores that 94% of UK adults were reached by BBC services in the first week of social distancing.
Still, the world’s oldest public broadcaster is facing some long-term problems around its funding model, which will be Davie’s to fix.
The annual report acknowledges these problems. According to the statement by BBC Chairman David Clementi, the organization already felt financial pressure before the corona-crisis as the licence fee had not been adjusted for inflation since 2010; “now the severe impact of Covid-19 means that we have to save an extra £125m – on top of additional significant savings – in a tougher than ever marketplace”.