Entertainment & Arts

Reduced BBC bad for UK, says director general Tony Hall

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Media captionTony Hall: "People in this country want the BBC to thrive"

A BBC "reduced in impact and reach" will leave Britain "diminished", the BBC's director general has warned.

In a speech at New Broadcasting House in London, Tony Hall said "a sleep-walk into decay for the BBC" would mean "a UK dominated by global gatekeepers, partial news and American tastemakers".

"A strong BBC", he said, would "bind the country together at home" and be "a British creative beacon to the world".

His speech came amid renewed calls for a change to the licence fee.

In a report published last week, the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee said the TV licence is "becoming harder... to justify" and suggested every household could pay a new compulsory levy instead.

"We've always said that the licence fee should be updated to reflect changing times," Lord Hall went on in his speech. "Adapting the licence fee for the internet age... is vital.

"I believe we need and we will need what the licence fee - in whatever form - makes happen more than ever."

Personalisation 'revolution'

In his speech, Lord Hall also set out a vision for the corporation that he said would let the "audience become schedulers".

"This is the start of a real transformation - the MyBBC revolution" he continued.

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".

He went on: "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."

In a message to BBC staff sent before his address, Lord Hall said his speech would "also set out the first step of our plans for BBC Production" and include proposals "to make BBC Studios a wholly owned subsidiary of the corporation".

"Production is at the heart of the BBC," his message continued. "We have been; we are; and always will be a great programme-maker."

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