BBC is 'alive and kicking', says director general Lord Hall


The BBC is very much alive and kicking, the corporation's boss has said, as he warned against cuts to public service broadcasting.

The next charter must recognise the BBC's contribution to national life and further afield, its director general Tony Hall said as he continued to make a passionate defence of the broadcasting organisation.

He told a packed audience, which included BBC Trust chair Rona Fairhead, at Bafta in central London that he is proud of the achievements at the broadcaster and championed its independence.

Ahead of the talk a handful of people had gathered outside the building in Piccadilly with banners, badges and leaflets emblazoned with the slogan "Save the BBC", who Lord Hall thanked from the stage for their support.

The BBC's royal charter, due to expire this year, is currently under Government review, and Culture, Media and Sport Secretary John Whittingdale sparked fears the corporation would be scaled back when he said the review would look at whether the broadcaster should continue to be ''all things to all people'' or have a more ''precisely targeted'' mission.

Asked when the White Paper on the corporation's future may be published Lord Hall said: "I really don't know", but added that he hoped it would be "soon".

About its possible content he said: "I hope that it will re-emphasise the importance of the BBC for our national life, I hope it will re-emphasise the importance of the BBC to the UK globally."

"I hope it also recognises the impact we have on the creative economy broadly."

In conversation with film producer and Labour peer, David Puttnam about the value of public service broadcasting, he said: "How do you ensure the next generation of talent is grown in this country? That falls very heavily on the BBC I believe in the future. That's why this charter is very, very important for the BBC in the future."

Lord Puttnam is chair of the A Future for Public Service Television Inquiry.

Referring to the long-running radio drama The Archers which has been in the headlines lately for a storyline on domestic violence which has gripped listeners, Lord Hall said he relishes when things produced in the world of radio and broadcast become talking points.

He said: "That says that the medium we are lucky enough to be working in has got absolute things to do, stories to tell, it's not dead, far from it. We are alive and kicking and the BBC above all is alive and kicking." He said he is "very proud" of all those who work at the corporation.

Speaking about the role of broadcasters generally he declared: "Public service broadcasting matters", adding: "Let's enjoy that and celebrate it", and warned against efforts to "cut it back".

He listed a range of BBC successes, including the Night Manager, Line Of Duty and War And Peace - which he said had inspired and encouraged him to read the epic novel.

In a plea to those on both sides of the debate about the value and importance of the corporation he said: "I think the best answer to the British public, to the politicians, to the Cabinet, to this Government, to everyone is the quality of what we do. Judge us by our deeds. And I think at the moment you can see what the BBC can offer."