The Director General of the BBC has promised that his plans for a “competitive revolution” at the broadcaster will deliver a “world class BBC – not a low-rent BBC”.
Tony Hall’s plans to open up the organisation to a new era of competition were enthusiastically welcomed yesterday by Britain’s independent television production sector as “good for the BBC, good for licence fee payers and good for business”.
In a speech intended to shape the debate on the BBC’s Royal Charter beyond 2016, Lord Hall called for the BBC’s production teams to be able to compete commercially to make programmes for rival broadcasters both in the UK and overseas.
“If independent producers can take their ideas to any broadcaster around the world, I would want the same for BBC Production,” he said. “We’re up for a discussion as to whether they should offer ideas to other UK broadcasters. But the world should definitely be their market.”
In return, the broadcaster would allow all of its own output – rather than the current level of 50 per cent – to be subject to tenders from outside suppliers.
John McVay, chief executive of the independent sector’s trade body PACT, said it had been calling for such an approach for two decades. “Tony Hall’s commitment to liberalising in-house production should be welcomed both inside the BBC and by its suppliers. We look forward to working with the BBC Executive in the coming months to identify how this can be achieved in order to deliver the best value for money for licence fee payers.”
The Channel 4 chairman Lord Burns said that his organisation would take BBC shows “if they are good enough and meet our remit” but added that he “would be nervous” if the BBC’s presence in the market “would squeeze” the independent sector.