Lord Tony Hall to reflect on BBC tenure at Edinburgh TV Festival

Lord Tony Hall is to reflect on his seven-year tenure as BBC director-general in one of his final public appearances in the role.

He will open this year’s online edition of the Edinburgh TV Festival on Monday August 24, addressing delegates on issues including diversity, the role of news in public service broadcasting, and how to stay relevant while competing with streaming services such as Netflix.

Lord Hall will also discuss the importance of public service broadcasters, the challenges they face and why the Government needs to be reminded of the role it plays in the media landscape and society.

His appearance will kick off four days of discussion about the UK TV industry, which will also feature a keynote address by broadcaster and historian David Olusoga as the annual MacTaggart Lecture.

BBC director general
BBC director general

BBC Studios head Tim Davie is due to replace Lord Hall as director-general of the corporation.

He was acting director-general for four months following George Entwistle’s resignation in November 2012 before Lord Hall’s appointment.

Lord Hall’s exit comes amid a turbulent time for the BBC, with the spotlight on a number of issues around equal pay, diversity, free TV licences for the over-75s and competition from streaming services, as well as the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The BBC also faces criticism over its planned shake-up of regional TV news and local radio in England, axing some 450 jobs.

Earlier this year it announced plans to cut more than 150 roles in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Fran Unsworth, director of BBC news and current affairs, has said the corporation’s News at Six and News at Ten may become obsolete as viewing habits change in future.

She told the Daily Telegraph: “I think TV journalism will still be around because of the power of pictures to tell a story, but it won’t necessarily be received in quite the form it currently is.

Cliff Richard court case
Cliff Richard court case

“Ultimately, in 10 years’ time, we probably won’t be consuming linear bulletins. I might be wrong about that but I doubt it.”

Asked if News at Ten might survive but not News at Six, she replied: “Possibly. Or maybe the other way round.”

Lord Hall’s address will be broadcast at 9.35am on Monday.

This year’s Edinburgh TV Festival will take place from August 24 to 27 in a digital format.

More details can be found at thetvfestival.com.