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Hall urges BBC to embrace change

Published 13/05/2015

John Whittingdale has expressed disapproval of the licence fee
John Whittingdale has expressed disapproval of the licence fee

BBC director-general Tony Hall has told staff the corporation "cannot be immune to change" as it prepares for charter review and possible changes to the licence fee.

David Cameron's appointment of veteran Tory MP John Whittingdale to the post of Culture Secretary led to warnings in some newspapers that the Government is set to "go to war with the BBC".

In an email to staff last night, Mr Hall said he was looking forward to working with Mr Whittingdale who previously chaired the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee.

He said: " Ahead of us lie the charter review and the licence fee negotiations. Quite rightly, there will be lively and robust debate about the future of the BBC and its role in public life. We should approach this debate with confidence.

"The BBC is a treasured national asset but of course it cannot be immune to change. The BBC should be prepared to be bold and inventive about its future and we should also encourage the public to have its voice in that debate.

"That is why we will be publishing our own proposals in the next few months on how the BBC can flourish in the internet age as we look forward to our centenary."

Mr Whittingdale has made no secret of his belief that the licence fee, which provides the basis of the BBC's funding, is in need of reform.

His appointment sparked warnings that the renewal of the charter, which sets out the licence fee settlement and expires in 2016, could see far-reaching change at the corporation.

Appearing last year on a Bafta panel, Mr Whittingdale said in the short-term the licence fee was in need of "tweaking" to sort out "anomalies".

In particular, he questioned whether it could continue as a "flat-rate poll tax", regardless of household income.

In the longer term - over the next 20 to 30 years - he suggested it would prove "unsustainable" altogether.

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