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I want to reach half a billion, says BBC chief
Published 24/02/14

TONY HALL, director-general of the BBC, says he wants to reach audiences of 500 million around the world by 2022.

He spoke of his ambition in a speech to the Henley and Henley Bridge Rotary Clubs’ joint dinner meeeting on Wednesday to celebrate the movement’s founder Paul Harris.

More than 60 diners, including Rotarians, their partners and guests attended the event at Badgemore Park Golf Club.

Lord Hall, who lives in New Street, Henley, said: “Lord Reith got it right nearly 100 years ago when he said ‘I am a great believer in to inform, educate and entertain’ and I think he got it spot on but I would add one other — inspire. That is what the BBC does at its best — we give that sense of horizons being broadened.

“The BBC is getting to 250 million people globally and I have said that when we are one hundred in 2020 I want to get an audience of half a billion.”

Lord Hall said that in order to achieve that he wants to galvanise the BBC and repair its reputation following the Newsnight report in 2012 which led to the late Lord McAlpine being wrongly accused of child abuse. He said: “There is always a concentration on the top guy or woman but it is all about teams. My role has been to get teams to work well together, to get them to be able to give some of the best work of their lives.”

Lord Hall explained that he spends one day a week “on the ground” to see the work the corporation produces first-hand.

A highlight was in his first week when he went saw Doctor Who being filmed and was able to “fly” the Tardis with actor Matt Smith.

“It was wonderful,” he said. “He told me ‘not to touch that lever’ and for a second I still said to myself ‘what would happen if I do?’. Sherlock is another one of my favourites, which is watched by millions in and outside the country.”

Lord Hall said he wanted to improve coverage of the arts, adding: “We are also going to do more live events from the amazing arts scene around the country.”

He outlined several big projects the BBC has been working on, such as in-depth programmes on the First World War, and promised more channels and a 30-day catch-up service rather than seven on the iPlayer.

The vote of thanks was given by Roger Sayer, president of Henley Rotary Club.

Published 24/02/14

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