In yesterday's Observer, Director-General Tony Hall explained how the BBC will still be a hub of creativity and innovation after last week's Licence Fee negotiations with the Government. The article appears in full below.

As the dust settles after a challenging week of negotiation over funding and debate about the future of the BBC, three things are clear.

First, the BBC has negotiated a strong financial settlement from the government that gives us stability and clarity, but we should be in no doubt that the charter process will be tough.

Second, despite noises to the contrary, the BBC is as independent today as it has ever been. There has been no fundamental change in the relationship between government and corporation. Nor will there be under my watch.

Third, although the BBC used the pre-budget window of opportunity to reach a fair deal, it is not a process we would have chosen and it is not a process that should be repeated.

So how did we get here? Nearly two weeks ago, the government approached us about taking on the cost of funding free licences for the over-75s. If this had been imposed on us without compensation, we would have lost nearly a quarter of our funding.

So we went into intense negotiations with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the Treasury.

Our objective was a strong deal for our audiences – the millions of people who use the BBC every day. I made it clear that I was not prepared to do the wrong deal or a deal on any terms.

But recognising the financial priorities of the government, I saw this as the chance to agree some important changes that have helped secure the BBC’s future for the next charter period. As a result of this, the BBC will be funded by the licence fee for the next charter and the government will modernise the way we define a TV licence so that people will need one to use services such as BBC iPlayer. This continues the journey of modernisation that began with the first radio licence in the 1920s; we have a commitment to return the ringfenced £150m a year being used to support broadband rollout back to BBC programmes and services; and we have a commitment to increase the licence fee by inflation in the next charter. This increase is something we have not had for seven years.


The chancellor gave me his commitment to these changes. The way this financial settlement is shaped gives us, in effect, flat funding for our content and services for the first five years of the next charter. But even with this certainty, major efficiency savings will have to be found and difficult decisions taken.

Some have said that this transfer of a welfare obligation compromises the BBC’s independence. It does not. Successive governments have used the licence fee in different ways to fund priorities that are only indirectly connected to BBC output, for example, to support broadband rollout. So this is not a new debate and last week did not mark some seismic shift in the relationship between the BBC and the government. Our independence is precious and will never be negotiated away.

However, for people to have confidence in the country’s most important news organisation, they must know that its journalists will ask the difficult questions without fear or favour. So I believe that in future the debate about the BBC’s scale and funding should be taken out of the political cycle.

Now we have fixed the funding settlement, the debate moves on to what the BBC does with that funding.

We have never been afraid of debate about our future. I am proud of what the BBC does and the quality of our output. Every day, 46 million people in the UK use our services. Every week, virtually every adult in the UK uses us for, on average, 18 hours a week. The World Service is one of Britain’s greatest exports. We are the cornerstone of the UK’s world-beating creative economy.

So what is most important is that the voice of the audience and the voice of people who care about the BBC are heard in the debate. The public are our shareholders. Their view will always be the most important.

We should be under no illusion that this is a period of high risk for the BBC. While no one wants to abolish the BBC, there will be some who want to diminish us for their own narrow interests. We must remind them that the British public do not share their views.

There will be others who want to join in the debate about public service broadcasting with ideas for reform. We will listen and learn and reflect on what we hear. We have our own plans for adapting the BBC further to become a truly internet-first organisation over the coming years, which we will set out in the autumn. I believe that they will open up even greater opportunities for our audiences and for our creative industries.

This charter review matters much more than most. It’s about something bigger than the BBC – it’s about the future of public service broadcasting, British creativity and the success of our creative economy. We face big choices. But with public support, this is the chance to renew and enhance an organisation that we all deeply care about.

It will be a tough fight ahead. But I am confident that – at the end of the process – the BBC will emerge stronger, re-energised and with its best days ahead of it.

Tony Hall is the BBC Director-General

Tagged with:


This entry is now closed for comments.

  • Comment number 4. Posted by Matt Berkley

    on 21 Jul 2015 05:19

    Date: 1 July 2015 at 12:57
    Subject: Re: No reply at Stage 1a: complaints to ECU, BBC World, World Service or Audience Services. CAS-3340770-ZFKF11 and others
    To: ECU

    Dear Mr Steel,

    BBC misinformed people, including in poor countries, about government commitments

    I write further to the ECU's lack of response to information on a significant error, in my emails of 6 February 2014, 28 May 2014, 3 August 2014, 11 August 2014, 13 August 2014, 27 October 2014, and 3 November 2014, and further to my email of [30 June] 2015.

    ....More or Less made its own error to the same effect on 10 March 2012, as I stated.

    The fact that I have supplied a large amount of evidence should in my view make the BBC's decision process easier and shorter.

    Yours sincerely,

    Matt Berkley

    On 30 June 2015 at 14:50, Matt Berkley....wrote:

    Dear Mr Steel,

    It is now over a year since you wrote " I’ll reply separately to your email of 28 May."

    The BBC has often confused generally easier Millennium Development Goal targets with Millennium Declaration pledges.

    I have supplied you from February 2014 onwards with evidence.

    The September 2015 UN Summit is approaching.

    The BBC has not to my knowledge rectified its errors or misleading information.

    It is not difficult to see that the Millennium Declaration does not refer to a 1990 baseline or "proportions in developing regions".

    An example of older BBC output is the "MDG website":

    "In September 2000, the Millennium Declaration was ratified by 189 heads of state at the United Nations Millennium Summit.
    The Declaration outlines eight broad goals. Within these are eighteen targets - most set for 2015 using 1990 as a benchmark"

    The effect is clearly cumulative.

    In my view items containing the mistake that, or implying that, MDG targets were set in 2000 contribute to the misconception.

    The reason is that a substantial number of people would already have some idea that leaders made pledges in 2000 and/or that there have been reports of specific progress on MDG targets.

    It is hard to see what other event in 2000 they might think the BBC is referring to.

    Yours sincerely,

    Matt Berkley

    ---------- Forwarded message ----------

    From: Trust Editorial
    Date: 28 May 2015 at 15:40
    ...I note that you have other cases outstanding with the Editorial Complaints Unit.... I understand the ECU will be writing to you separately regarding the matters that are still with them.
    Yours sincerely

    Leanne Buckle

    ---------- Forwarded message ----------
    From: ECU
    Date: 11 August 2014 at 11:27
    Subject: RE: Possible ECU conflict of interest
    To: Matt Berkley
    Dear Mr Berkley
    I'm sorry not to have replied before now. I'm afraid we're unseasonably busy, and my correspondence isn't as punctual as it should be. I'll try to give you a substantive reply this week.
    Yours sincerely
    Fraser Steel

    On 2 June 2014 14:28, ECU wrote:
    Dear Mr Berkley.... I’ll reply separately to your email of 28 May.

    Yours sincerely

    Fraser Steel

    ---------- Forwarded message ----------

    Date: 9 June 2015 at 10:03
    Subject: BBC Complaints - Case number CAS-3340770-ZFKF11
    To: Matt Berkley

    ...Thanks for contacting the BBC. This is an automated email ...


    Complaint Summary: Understated impression of UN Summit pledges

    Full Complaint: Major matter. There is likely to be little point answering this complaint by referring to secondary sources, because many of them make wrong statements. Example of BBC output: World Service, The Inquiry, 2/515. The introduction's error gives a generally understated impression of leaders' pledges at the Millennium Summit. They did not agree a list of eight goals or mention "MDGs", but "resolved" "by the year have reduced...under-five child mortality by two thirds, of ...current rates". The MDG targets were proposed in 2001 without leaders discussing them at the UN until 2005. Some MDGs, such as on child mortalit have 1990-2015 targets. These pages have related mistakes: The BBC has contributed to a similar wrong impression for years. I have yet to receive a substantive response from the head of the ECU to correspondence on this matter, with evidence, beginning on 6/2/14 in comments on provisional response 1300394. I refer also to unanswered handling complaint 3204842 mentioning "institutional failure" appealed to the Trust. A smaller error: The Inquiry states, similarly to its web page, "over the past 15 years child mortality has halved". The official global claim is for 1990-2015.

    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of positive ratings for comment 4: 0
    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of negative ratings for comment 4: 0
  • Comment number 2. Posted by Simon D Wood

    on 16 Jul 2015 15:21

    May I suggest that the BBC institutes some sort of International TV License scheme [or subscription service], perhaps run along the lines of Netflix, whereby people from all over the world can tune in. I live in California [where TV is dire] and would gladly pay the £145 [$230] yearly TV License fee to watch your excellent programming. Thank you.

    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of positive ratings for comment 2: 1
    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of negative ratings for comment 2: 0
  • Comment number 3. Posted by scoobie

    on 19 Jul 2015 02:14

    How to privatise the BBC in 3 simple steps:
    1. Stop the BBC making popular programmes
    2. Notice the audiences have dropped so the licence fee can no longer be justified
    3. Privatise the BBC

    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of positive ratings for comment 3: 1
    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of negative ratings for comment 3: 0
  • Comment number 1. Posted by scoobie

    on 14 Jul 2015 20:46

    There is one heck of a mistake in this article - "advertisment"

    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of positive ratings for comment 1: 3
    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of negative ratings for comment 1: 0

More Posts