Inside the BBC’s plan to enter the global newsletter market
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Just one person will eventually be trusted with one of media’s biggest brands when the BBC launches its first set of weekly and daily newsletters in North America later this year.
The broadcast giant revealed to FN that it has made the decision to hire a Head of Newsletters to oversee the region after registering growing interest in Canada and the US, where 50 million Americans and nine million Canadians use the BBC’s news services each week, making it the BBC’s second-largest non-UK market in the world after India.
“By experimenting with engaging formats that resonate with digital-first audiences, we want to ensure that our journalism is reaching consumers,” a BBC spokesperson said. “So, whilst the newsletters will be primarily aimed at North American audiences, they will have an international remit.”
No firm launch date has yet been publicly revealed as the BBC continues its search for a Head of Newsletters. But whoever lands the role will initially grow the team to three people and be tasked with featuring news and other content from across BBC News and BBC Sport, including global sporting events such as the football World Cup in Qatar and US elections.
“[They] will utilise the expertise of thousands of journalists across the world, as well as examine the impact of the big stories from North America on other regions,” the spokesperson added.
The main aim behind the newsletter drive is to offer audiences in the US and Canada direct access to more original reporting, digital storytelling and breaking news coverage of North American and global events on bbc.com as well as BBC podcasts.
The day-to-day strategy of the editorial products will be compiled and enacted by the new Head of Newsletters, who will report into the BBC’s Head of Editorial for Digital News & Streaming within BBC Studios, the commercial arm of the British media giant.
BBC Studios, which saw record profits of more than £200m ($243m) in the 2021/22 period, appointed Jennie Baird, formerly of News Corp, as EVP and MD of Digital News and Streaming at the start of the year as it promised to double its digital journalism team in the US and Canada.
The newsletter development comes at a politically sensitive time for the BBC back home. The UK’s Conservative government under Boris Johnson has put increasing pressure on the BBC to commercialise aspects of its organisation. Tory leadership frontrunner Liz Truss has said her administration could stop people from being jailed if they fail to pay the £159 ($193)-per-year licence fee.
The BBC’s licence fee income reached £3.75bn ($4.57) last year, with the levy frozen for two years from 2022/23. After which, the fee will rise in line with consumer price index inflation for the following four years.
“We are committed to a leaner, more efficient BBC,” the BBC’s chief operating officer Leigh Tavaziva has promised.
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