John Smith (executive)

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John Smith (born August 1957) was[1] the Chief Executive Officer of BBC Worldwide from 2004 until 2012[2] and was a board member of Burberry Group plc. He is now a venture partner at Edge Investments in London.

Smith attended the Shelton Lock school[3] (which became Merrill College) in Derby. He later went to the Harvard Business School. He worked for British Rail Engineering Limited, Sealink, Seaspeed Hovercraft, and other companies owned by the BR Group.

At the BBC[edit]

Smith joined the BBC in 1989, becoming the BBC's Finance Director in 1996. In April 2000, he became Director of Finance, Property & Business Affairs, adding Property, Procurement and Programme Rights to his portfolio. In June 2004, he became the BBC's Chief Operating Officer.[4]

He undertook the Commercial Review of all the BBC's commercial activities and was responsible in 2004 for the sale of BBC Technology to Siemens Business Services, and in 2005, he led the sale of BBC Broadcast to Creative Broadcast Services Limited, a Macquarie Company. This company became Red Bee Media.

In July 2004, John Smith took the helm at BBC Worldwide and was confirmed as CEO in March 2005.

After taking over as CEO, Smith doubled BBC Worldwide's turnover and quadrupled its profits. He geographically diversified the business so that it had a more international focus. Under Smith BBC Worldwide was the largest TV distributor outside of US companies and became Europe's largest TV channel operator with over 360m subscribers to its BBC-branded portfolio of channels.[5] Under Smith, BBC Worldwide created new relationships with UK independent TV producers and set up an international production business producing TV format hits such as Dancing with the Stars and Top Gear. In 2007, BBC Worldwide launched the commercial international website - - which came into profit one year ahead of schedule and now has three international edition attracting 60 million unique users. The business has developed apps around its brands which have resulted in 25 million downloads and has attracted 23 million fans to its social media sites.[6] Smith also oversaw the successful launch of the BBC's new commercial Global iPlayer pilot[7] which is currently in 16 countries around the world, as well and the opening of the Doctor Who Experience,[8] an interactive exhibition, which was seen by a quarter of a million visitors in London. It has since been moved closer to the spiritual home of Doctor Who in Cardiff Bay, where it has recently opened up its doors to the public.

In 2009, BBC Worldwide's achievements were recognised with a Queen's Award for Enterprise.

Smith was a Director of the Henley Festival and Vice-President of the Royal Television Society. He was also non-executive director at Burberry and a Fellow of both the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants and the Royal Society of Arts (RSA). Smith won the Accountancy Age Financial Director of the Year Award in 2001. He was a member of the Accounting Standards Board for three years between 2001 and November 2004, the HM Treasury Public Services Productivity Panel, and a non-executive director of Severn Trent plc and Vickers PLC. John was a Council Member between 1996-9. In 2004, he received an honorary Fellowship from the Royal Institute of British Architects[9] (in the same year as John Prescott).


  1. ^ White, Peter (6 November 2017). "Former BBC WW Boss John Smith Launches Investment Partnership". Retrieved 10 September 2018.
  2. ^ "John Smith - Venture Partner". Retrieved 10 September 2018.
  3. ^ The MT Interview: BBC Worldwide's John Smith, Management Today
  4. ^ BBC biography
  5. ^ BBC Worldwide Annual Review 2012-13
  6. ^ BBC Worldwide Annual Review 2012-13 "Drive Digital Growth"
  7. ^ BBC Global iPlayer app reaches one million downloads, The Telegraph
  8. ^ Doctor Who Experience
  9. ^ Receives Honorary Fellowship from RIBA in May 2004