The outgoing director-general of the BBC has described the international reach of the BBC as being “absolutely crucial to any vision of ‘Global Britain’.”
Tony Hall was addressing the Edinburgh Television Festival, which this year is being held online as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Lord Hall said the £86 million a year in additional funding, secured four years ago from the then chancellor George Osbourne, had enabled the BBC to undertake the biggest expansion of the World Service since the second world war.
“My goal, when I arrived at the BBC, was to double our global audience to reach 500 million people by 2022 – our centenary year. With two years to go, we are today reaching 468 million people each week… 468 million.”
Lord Hall now wants to reach a global audience of 1 billion people by the end of the decade, but to do so he needs more funding from a government that has not been BBC-friendly
“Independent research shows there’s an exceptionally high correlation between places where people are aware of the BBC and places where people think positively about the UK. We even help UK trade,” added Lord Hall.
He said much had been learnt from the “tragedy and calamity” of the Covid crisis with audiences turning to the BBC in record numbers. In March, 94% Britons used the BBC including 87% of 16-34s.