Tim Davie to replace John Smith as BBC Worldwide chief executive

The current head of audio and music will take over the corporation's commercial arm following a period of unprecedented success

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BBC Worldwide chief executive John Smith is to step down from the role, to be replaced by the BBC’s current head of audio and music Tim Davie.

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Smith, who has been with the BBC for 23 years, and has headed up its commercial arm BBC Worldwide since 2004, said he was leaving to “pursue new opportunities in the commercial sector”.

“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,” said Smith. 

“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.”

During his tenure as chief executive, Smith has quadrupled Worldwide’s profits, and in the last financial year saw the company pour a record £216m back into the BBC’s broadcasting and programme making divisions.

BBC director general George Entwistle said of Smith, “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.”

Entwistle said that Davie, his choice to replace Smith, had “done an excellent job leading the BBC Audio & Music division and has a fantastic vision for the opportunities that lie ahead for BBC Worldwide. 

He added: “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.”

Davie, who will start his new job on 1 December, called BBC Worldwide an “outstanding business that plays a unique role in building the BBC’s global reputation”, adding “It is an honour to be asked to lead it.”

Of his predecessor, Davie said “John’s legacy is a company with a strong performance record, leadership in digital and rising international creative exports.”

And he said he relished the challenge ahead of him. “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,” said Davie.

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Before joining the BBC, Davie worked in marketing for Pepsi.