BBC Studios’ new CEO Tom Fussell has promoted the producer/distributor’s General Counsel Martyn Freeman to Chief Operating Officer.
Freeman has been BBC Studios’ GC for a decade and will extend his role to oversee the company’s technology, transformation and property, along with negotiating major acquisitions and partnerships and looking into regulation and compliance.
Netflix exec Anna Mallett held the role from 2016 to 2019 before moving to ITN and its responsibilities have been taken on by multiple other execs since. Freeman’s role is broader than BBC Studios Productions COO Martha Brass, who joined earlier this year from French producer/distributor Newen Group.
Fussell described the COO position as a “critical role” and praised Freeman for overseeing BBC Studios’ “operational response to the pandemic,” adding: “He brought his trademark calm and focus to a challenging set of circumstances for the business and its staff and ensured that everyone had the support they needed to do their jobs.”
The move is one of Fussell’s first big steps since taking on the role two months ago following a year-long search for the successor to Tim Davie, who became BBC Director General in September 2020. Davie has tasked Fussell with the big ask of increasing BBC Studios’ returns to the BBC by 30% over the next five years.
Freeman said: “We are driving through plans to realize new digital revenue streams, we have a new CEO at the helm and we have committed to ambitious goals to increase our returns so this is a significant time for the company.”
Prior to GC, Freeman led BBC Studios’ (then-BBC Worldwide) legal affairs team and oversaw the financing of its slate of natural history feature films.
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