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Director general Lord Hall: I'm sad The Voice is leaving BBC

Published 10/11/2015

BBC director general Lord Hall said British content matters to the broadcaster's audience
BBC director general Lord Hall said British content matters to the broadcaster's audience

The BBC's top boss is "sad" that the next series of The Voice will be the broadcaster's last - and appeared to confirm the show is moving to ITV.

The fifth series of the talent show in the new year will be the BBC's final one after the corporation refused to get into a bidding war to keep it.

At the weekend, Mark Linsey, acting director of BBC Television, said another broadcaster had "poached" the programme, and today, director general of the BBC, Lord Hall, said he hopes ITV do a good job with it.

He told the House of Lords Communications Committee: "I said at the time when people were saying 'What do you think of The Voice?' I think The Voice is a really, really good programme. I think we've made it, I think it's brilliant. I'm sad it's going, but there we are. I hope ITV, and I'm sure they will, will really sort of run with it, and keep on making it a success."

In the UK, The Voice is produced by Wall to Wall, alongside Talpa Media, the Dutch-based production company behind the format. The series was created by John de Mol.

However, ITV acquired Talpa Media in a deal worth approximately £355 million.

ITV has refused to comment on speculation that it has bought the broadcast rights, but it is believed there is still no deal in place at this stage.

Lord Hall was asked about criticism the BBC has received for showing programmes with non-British formats.

"If you said 'do you know what, you should never take formats of programmes that are not British', you've got a problem, because actually - Wallander, I loved Bergen, The Bridge I was hooked on, The Killing I'm afraid has me absolutely thrilled. And there's a kind of role for the BBC to say, it could be from any part of the world, there's something here which we can take and which we can show to people, and we should be proud of that as part of our role," he said.

He was asked about the merits of the BBC buying in programmes that are popular with young people but which also have similar themes to programmes on other channels.

"I think people fly to quality," he said.

Meanwhile, Culture Secretary John Whittingdale questioned in September whether it ''makes sense'' for BBC's main 10pm news bulletin to be broadcast at the same time as its ITV counterpart.

Today Lord Hall said: "Actually I think audiences are best served by having two news programmes to choose from. That's people's choice."

He recalled former director general Greg Dyke coining the phrase "News at When" when he was at the corporation at a time when the news programme was shifted.

But Lord Hall said: "We want to maintain Monday to Friday the News at Ten."

He added: "I believe in choice."

Lord Hall also told the committee that BBC Worldwide is "integral" to the broadcaster, but said it was being set "challenging targets".

He said the notion of any split between BBC and BBC Worldwide would "destroy" the essence of what is a "great showcase of British creativity".

Asked if the BBC News Channel may move online, Lord Hall said: "I can't say."

He pointed out that the channel is doing "extremely well", but acknowledged that a lot of people looked at the results of the general election on their mobile phones.

During the session, Lord Hall said the BBC's news services are "trusted a country mile above any other news service", adding that the broadcaster needs to earn that trust every day.

He said he seeks "excellence without arrogance" for the BBC.

The committee was billed as BBC Charter Renewal: public purposes and licence fee.

The corporation's Royal Charter is due to expire in 2016 and is currently under Government review.

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