Tony Hall says Netflix could never replace BBC

Josh Peachey's picture

BBC Director-General Tony Hall has said there is no way Netflix could replace the public service broadcaster because it doesn't provide news coverage or regional British content.

“The BBC is not Netflix. It is something that is in the absolute fabric of this nation. Netflix doesn’t do sport, it doesn’t do news, they don’t do a whole raft of things,” Hall said.

He said the government should be careful not to damage British society and “throw the baby out with the bathwater".

Hall used the example of the recent news coverage of flooding, where one reporter in Hereford and Worcester was basically underwater but continued to broadcast because "she cared about getting the story". 

He also questioned how a subscription-style method would work for the BBC, adding that traditional radio stations and the Freeview service to be shut down, as they could not currently be encrypted or password-protected. 

“Are you really going to put a barrier between radio and people?” he asked, adding that the same applied with Freeview television.

Speaking at a media conference organised by Enders Analysis and Deloitte, Hall said he believed the licence fee would still exist in some form after the BBC’s royal charter runs out in seven years’ time: “The licence fee beyond 2027 will still matter and will still be phenomenally important for the BBC.”

The boss of the Corporation, who will leave this summer, said that it also needed to become less patrician in its attitude towards its audiences, moving away from the image of it as “Auntie”, while finding other sources of revenue in the future. 

The Channel 4 chief executive, Alex Mahon, also spoke at the event, saying that that the government should do more to protect the British public service broadcasting sector, stating: “our most prominent news feeds could be selected by US companies that are more concerned about profit than trust or accuracy”.