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In a move much predicted, and much advised by industry experts, the BBC is to merge its main programme production arm, BBC Studios, with commercial division BBC Worldwide to form a single organisation under the former’s name.

Explaining the move to a single entity, the corporation says that at a time of an increasingly competitive and global market for production and distribution, the new organisational structure will bring the BBC into line with the rest of the industry. BBC Worldwide’s range of commercial activities such as content financing, sales and commercial channels will be brought together with BBC Studios with a single business plan and combined operating model, performing its role more simply and efficiently. Moreover, the BBC says the new set-up will ensure that it is best placed to succeed both creatively and commercially and will better serve licence fee payers and be better placed to make the investments others in the TV will not in an ever-more competitive global TV market.

The newly configured BBC Studios will create a unified business with a single business plan and combined operating model that the BBC says is better placed to support the UK’s creative talent, producing ‘high quality, distinctive’ UK content in bases across the country. It will also aim to maximise the intellectual property value of BBC programming for the benefit of UK licence fee payers and support the UK creative economy by distributing British content as a cultural export and source of global influence.

BBC Studios is internationally recognised for making high quality British programmes across a broad range of genres and specialisms. Boasting 81 awards so far this year, its output includes Blue Planet II, Strictly Come Dancing, Antiques Roadshow, EastEnders, Top Gear, the award-winning drama Three Girls, Louis Theroux’s latest documentary series and Drugsland on BBC Three.

BBC Worldwide has returned almost £1 billion to the BBC in the past five years, and has invested in, marketed and distributed global hits from BBC Studios, including Planet Earth II, winner of the Outstanding Documentary Series Emmy in 2017, sold to 233 territories; Doctor Who, sold to 239 territories; Top Gear, sold to 241; and Strictly Come Dancing, internationally licensed 54 times as Dancing with the Stars.

“Creating a single BBC Studios will bring the BBC in line with the industry, be simpler and more efficient, commented BBC director general Tony Hall. “It will help ensure that licence fee payers in the UK continue to receive outstanding British programmes which reflect British lives, long into the future. It will also ensure the BBC can continue to play its crucial role in supporting the successful UK creative economy.”

The new BBC Studios will be led by chief executive officers Tim Davie and Mark Linsey. Davie added: “Creating one company, in line with market norms, is a natural step in this market. The new BBC Studios will be focused on the highest quality British content, underpinning our future financial return to licence fee payers. It will allow us to better serve customers, indie partners and the wider industry, resulting in world-class British productions for audiences in the UK and overseas. I am excited about the prospects ahead, and delighted to be part of the new organisation.”