BBC director general defends universal funding for a strong BBC

Tony Hall, director-general of the BBC, has stressed that Britain would be diminished if the capacity and impact of the BBC is not sustained, amid renewed calls for a change to the licence fee.

Hall asserted that without protection BBC risks falling prey to global investors and ‘American tastemakers’. However, with a robust strategy Hall said the BBC can continue as a vital point of unity at home and ‘creative beacon’ abroad.

Last week, a report from the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee said that the TV licence is becoming harder to justify, suggesting that every household could pay a new compulsory tax instead.

In his speech, Tony Hall accepted proposed changes to the licence fee, citing the need to catch up with modern technology.

"We've always said that the licence fee should be updated to reflect changing times. I welcome the Committee's endorsement of our proposal to require people to pay the licence fee even if they only watch catch-up television. The committee has suggested another route to modernizing the licence fee – a universal household levy.

"Both proposals have the same goal in mind: adapting the licence fee for the internet age. This is vital. Because I believe we need and we will need what the licence fee – in whatever form – makes happen—more than ever."

Hall also discussed innovation in the corporation that would transform audience into schedulers.

Using viewers' personal data, he suggested, would enable the corporation to guide them to the best of the BBC's content and to reinvent public service broadcasting through data.

"But we will always be doing it the BBC way. Not telling you what customers like you bought, but what citizens like you would love to watch and need to know."

DTG Staff  |  02.03.2015

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