BBC Boss Proposes Kids VOD, Drama Binge-Viewing Offerings

ONE TIME USE - Tony Hall - H 2012
Luke Macgregor/Reuters

Tony Hall sets out wide-ranging proposals for how the broadcaster can adapt to future audience demands, including making drama series available for binge viewing.

The BBC's iPlayer VOD platform could open up to include content from other U.K. program providers, while it could also offer a dedicated service for children, dubbed iPlay, BBC director general Tony Hall said on Monday.

These were just two of the proposals that he put forward in a speech, in which he laid out plans for the U.K. public broadcaster ahead of its charter renewal discussions with the government, due to take place next year and in the midst of major budget cuts.

Hall said he wanted to "open [the] BBC up for the Internet age," while also making "Britain the greatest cultural force in the world," although he warned that cost cuts would mean some services could be reduced or closed.

"Having already saved 40 percent of the BBC's revenues in this charter period, we must save close to another 20 percent over the next five years," he said.

Other new announcements included a beefing up of the BBC's international service, including radio broadcasts into North Korea and enhanced content for Russian speakers, plus an "open online platform" for the arts that would combine BBC coverage with that of major British cultural institutions.

Hall also indicated plans to compete with the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime, saying that quality drama would be a priority, with "bigger and bolder series" to be made available on the iPlayer in their entirety for binge viewing.

In a possible dig at recent government claims that the BBC was "imperial" in its ambitions, Hall stressed that the new moves were not one of an "expansionist BBC," and its growth was one of "excellence without arrogance."