BBC’s global ambitions will raise further licence fee questions: The Yorkshire Post says

IN his final speech as the BBC’s director-general, Lord Tony Hall set out his belief that the corporation “can carry Britain’s voice and values to the world” as it aims to reach a global audience of one billion people by 2030.

Tony Hall smiles as he arrives for his first day as Director General of the BBC in 2013. Picture: LEON NEAL/AFP via Getty Images

Lord Hall said the BBC has a vital role to play in shaping international perceptions of the UK, particularly as the country tries to forge a new ‘Global Britain’ identity in the wake of Brexit.

These are grand ambitions, but equally Lord Hall’s successor as director-general Tim Davie must not forget about the BBC’s most important task; serving its domestic audience.

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Given those who access BBC websites and channels from abroad are subject to adverts in the same way as other commercial outlets, the corporation needs to demonstrate more than ever to those in this country who do have to pay licence fees are truly receiving value for money for their compulsory contributions.

This particularly applies now that the free licences have been stripped from most over-75s.

Much of the success of the corporation’s global ambitions will be tied to its commercial arm BBC Studios, whose activities include selling the corporation’s most popular shows around the world.

Ironically further progress with its international aim of reaching one billion people by 2030 – up from 468 million per week at the moment – is likely to raise further questions about the long-term future of the licence fee.

The BBC has a tightrope to walk if it wants to pursue global success while still relying on compulsory licence fee contributions in this country.

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James Mitchinson