Yesterday, in a speech at New Broadcasting House in London, BBC director general Tony Hall presented a bullish defence of the license fee model, the logic and relevance of which has been under recent examination in a report by the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee.
Hall was careful to eschew the subscription model (one of the options presented by the report), but concurred that the ‘unique way the BBC is funded’ did need to be brought up to date.
“We’ve always said that the licence fee should be updated to reflect changing times,” said Hall. “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.”
Hall called this challenge “adapting the licence fee for the internet age,” and otherwise emphasised the growing significance of the internet to the BBC’s future.
“For the last 20 years, broadcasting has been in the digital era,” he went on. “But, until recently, it was relatively unaffected by the growth of the internet. In the next 10 years, that will all change with distribution over the internet as important as over the airwaves.”
Hall described a vision for more personalised service, ‘My BBC,’ which made use of the data amassed for individual viewers to provide a more tailored experience, one that directed them them to the full expanse of BBC platforms and content according to their tastes.
Hall added that, while the internet era makes it easier than ever to find information, it becomes much more difficult to know whether to trust it, while those that can’t afford high quality content risk being marginalised. “To these problems,” he concluded, “the BBC provides a response.”
Marina Kalkanis, Head of Core Services, Programmes On Demand, BBC and Nick Coulter, Head of Digital, BBC Worldwide will be appearing at TV Connect (28th – 30th April 2015 ExCel, London)