BBC appoints Sir Damon Buffini to deputy chair to boost its commercial income

This comes as Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan said it is ‘impossible' to sustain the broadcaster on its current licence fee model.

The BBC has appointed former private equity businessman Sir Damon Buffini as its deputy chair as the corporation seeks to boost its commercial income amid uncertainty to its licence fee funding.

The 60-year-old, who was a founding partner of international investment firm Permira for more than 10 years, will take on the role alongside his current position as chair of the BBC Commercial Board.

This comes as Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan said it is “impossible” to sustain the broadcaster on its current licence fee model and confirmed she would pursue the Government review into the annual charge.

Cabinet meeting
Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Earlier this year, Donelan’s predecessor Nadine Dorries announced that the licence fee would be frozen at £159 for the next two years until April 2024 – but said she wanted to find a new funding model before the current deal expires in 2027 as it is “completely outdated”.

Sir Damon joined the BBC board as a non-executive director in November 2021 and was appointed chair of the BBC Commercial Board in March 2022.

The broadcaster has said his new appointment to deputy chair “reflects the importance of the BBC’s commercial activity to the overall success of the corporation”.

It has also been announced that Gary Newman, Ian Griffiths and Claire Hungate will all join the BBC Commercial Board as non-executive directors, with effect from April 1 for an initial term of three years.

Newman was previously the chairman and chief executive officer of Fox Television Group, until its acquisition by The Walt Disney Company, where he oversaw production of such shows as 24, Glee, Modern Family, Homeland and The Masked Singer.

Griffiths was formerly deputy chief executive and chief financial officer of market intelligence agency Kantar from 2020 to 2022 as well as acting as chief financial officer and chief operating officer for ITV for more than 10 years.

Meanwhile, Hungate has held the roles of chief executive of Warner Bros TV Production UK, chief operating officer of Shed Media, and managing director of Wall to Wall.

BBC chairman post
BBC chairman Richard Sharp (DCMS/PA)

Sir Damon said: “The BBC’s commercial subsidiaries, already successful, have been tasked with a further step-change in performance.

“The appointment of three new non-executives, with spectacular industry experience, reinforces the Commercial Board’s commitment to support and challenge the executive in achieving these stretching goals.”

BBC Chairman Richard Sharp added: “I am incredibly pleased that Sir Damon will take on the additional role of deputy chair of the BBC Board, reflecting the integral part that the BBC’s commercial activity plays in the Corporation’s overall success.

“As chair of the BBC Commercial Board, Sir Damon brings vast experience and expertise to the oversight of our commercial operations at a time when the BBC Board is looking for significant and sustained commercial growth.”

The new non-executives join to replace Steve Morrison and Dame Elan Closs Stephens, whose full terms on the BBC Commercial Board expire in March 2023.