BBC Sets Investment Guru Damon Buffini As Chair Of Commercial Board; Annual Plan Unveils Representation Targets & Hints At Cuts To Come

Damon Buffini, a Founding Partner of global investment firm Permira, is to chair the BBC’s Commercial Board, a move that reflects the corporation’s desire to generate more investment from BBC Studios, as it unveils an Annual Plan that includes targets for 25% working class representation and hints at incoming cuts.

Buffini will take on the new role overseeing producer/distributor BBC Studios as well as other commercial activity including facilities operation Studioworks.

He was previously a Non-Exec Director on the re-named and re-jigged Board, which is now made up of majority Non-Execs from external backgrounds including commercial, financial and digital.

The board’s main aim is to drive commercial growth and income, one of the four key pillars of BBC Director General Tim Davie’s approach since he took over 18 months ago.

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Buffini is a Founding Partner of global investment firm Permira and has a long history of involvement in the arts, including being Governer of the Wellcome Trust.

He will take up his position on Friday, joined by new Non-Exec Directors Bhav Singh and Gunjan Bhow.

Buffini said: “BBC Studios has an impressive track record for creativity and business within the creative industries and the new board arrangements are a significant step to enhancing this further, both in the UK and globally.”

The move comes with the BBC facing a huge hit to its income due to a licence fee freeze set for the next two years, before it returns to rising with inflation.

Unveiling its Annual Plan today, the BBC said it will set out more detail of how it intends to deal with this freeze in May, hinting that cuts could be incoming. The corporation needs to find around £1.5BN ($2BN) worth of savings over the next five years.

The Annual Plan also set out a target of 25% of staff being from lower socio-economic backgrounds by 2027 “to ensure our workforce is more representative of the audiences we serve.”

This reflects another of Davie’s key priorities, to represent the UK in its entirety, and the Annual Plan revealed a new kids show, CBBC’s Phoenix Rise, set in a fictional West Midlands secondary school and filmed in the region.

The Plan also said personalization of the BBC iPlayer and Sounds players will be improved along with the rollout of a fresh BBC News app, as the corporation continues to manoeuvre to appeal to the younger generation.

Creative highlights over the coming year, according to the BBC, include Sally Rooney’s Conversations With Friends, Hugo Blick’s The English and the return of Happy Valley, along with Frozen Planet II, the latest natural history landmark.

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