The director-general of the BBC Tony Hall has said that prior to the corporation's charter review it will be inevitable that the broadcaster will have to "close or reduce some services". In addition he warned that although closing services in the UK to create a "more distinctive" BBC would "be funded within the confines of the budget agreement with the government" the budget for the BBC World Service would now "need to be discussed".
Although he fell short of earmarking the services set for closure, Lord Hall said that the BBC would task itself with finding "close to 20%" of its cost base in savings for its next 10-year charter period. He insisted that as "much of that as possible" will come from "efficiency and commercial growth".
In a speech, delivered to a packed audience at London's Science Museum with an appearance from special guest Professor Brian Cox, Hall pledged to make the broadcaster more open and ready for the "internet age" announcing a children's version of the corporation's successful iPlayer and a pool of local reporters who will share work with local newspapers. He said the broadcaster wanted to make Britain the "greatest cultural force in the world".
Hall spoke in advance of the BBC's charter renewal in 2016 and insisted that the broadcaster would not be "expansionist" in its approach towards other global media owners. New projects for the corporation would include an "ideas service", which he said would be an "open online platform" with material not only from the corporation but from galleries, universities and museums.
Hall said that he had looked for the initiative to act as a "curator" for British cultural resources to bring the "best from Britain's great cultural institutions and thinkers to everyone". He added: "Creative freedom. Universal reach. Trust and consent. These are the watchwords of the BBC."
Comparing the corporation to its commercial challenger Google, Hall said: "Google's mission is to organise the world's information, ours in a smaller way would be to understand it. We will work with anyone who can help us understand this ever more complex world."
Lastminute.com founder @Marthalanefox welcomed Hall's proposals on Twitter. She said: "Fabulous pitch by tony hall + @ProfBrianCox on #BBC - open and enabling for the next decade "to make Britain better"
The BBC boss said that for the next decade the corporation would be in the process of riding "two horses" serving those who have adopted the internet and mobile media, while at the same time making sure that those who want to carry on watching and listening to traditional channels "continue to be properly served".
The corporation has come under heavy criticism from commercial players in the local press and radio markets who have complained about the publicly-funded BBC encroaching on the readers and listeners of local press and radio stations. Hall addressed the issue in his speech today: "In the future the BBC would set aside licence fee funding to invest in a service that reports on councils, courts, public services and so on, and we would make available our regional video and local audio for immediate use on the internet services of local and regional news organisations."
To deliver the new services, and maintain existing ones, Hall said that BBC faces "a very tough financial challenge" and concluded that the corporation would have to manage its resources "ever more carefully" and prioritise what the BBC offers.
Lord Hall's BBC proposals:
• The BBC will set out its ambition to find close to 20% of its cost base in savings. As much of that as possible will come from efficiency and commercial growth, but it will also require service reductions or closures. The BBC will seek to go further than required by the recent Budget agreement in order to invest in the above proposals.
• Significant investment in the World Service to parts of the world where there is a democratic deficit in impartial news.
• The offering of a new partnership with local newspapers on local reporting. This content would be shared, jointly created, and backed by licence fee funding, thereby helping to secure the future of local newspapers and democratic reporting.
• A commitment to original, high-quality British drama from BBC One to online.
• A partnership to create an Ideas Service providing the public with the best of British ideas and culture.
• A new children's service – iPlay.
• Finding digital ways to support music discovery to help audiences find new music.
• Responsive radio to give audiences a personalised schedule of programmes.
• Opening up BBC iPlayer to showcase content from others.
• A review of the BBC's website to ensure that it is distinctive with a stronger focus on online broadcast content.
• A transition from rolling news to streaming news, with BBC Newstream, bringing the expertise of our journalism into the palm of your hand.
• New versions of the BBC's education, news and entertainment services in the nations, as the start of our consultation about how to reflect deepening devolution.