John Smith quits BBC Worldwide

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John Smith is to step down after eight years as Chief Executive Officer of the BBC’s commercial arm BBC Worldwide. He will be succeeded by Tim Davie, currently Director of BBC Audio & Music.

Under Smith’s leadership, the BBC’s commercial arm has grown into a major global media company, doubling its revenue, growing profits four-fold 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. He 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.”

John Smith said: “It has been a huge privilege to lead this powerful business 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 added: “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.”