BBC no longer a dominant force in television, says deputy director-general

The BBC is no longer a dominant force in television, the Corporation’s second-in-command has admitted, in the face of an onslaught from the "creative and financial firepower" of US tech giants.
Anne Bulford, deputy director-general, said the BBC needs to join forces with commercial rivals to keep British programming alive.
She told a media industry conference in London that “it’s just not the same any more” and that “the days when the BBC was a dominant force” are gone - the days when audiences of 20 million or more would tune in to an episode of Only Fools and Horses.
There is now a “real and imminent threat to British content”, Ms Bulford said, from the rise of smartphones and tablets combined with heavy investment in programming by Netflix, Amazon and Apple.
The US giants are channelling billions into their own productions, which are typically designed to appeal to global tastes rather than tailored to British sensibilities.
BBC no longer a dominant force in television, says deputy director-general

Sharon White, chief executive of Ofcom
Netflix spent more on programming last year than all Britain’s public service broadcasters combined. It reportedly paid ?100 million for the first series of House of Cards, the glossy political thriller based on the novel by Michael Dobbs. The book was originally adapted by the BBC in the 1990s on a modest budget. Amazon is said to have paid up to ?250 million for the rights to adapt JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings for television.
More young people now recognise the YouTube brand than the BBC. In her speech, Ms Bulford said there had been “seismic changes” in the television industry. “Today’s market is increasingly competitive and global, and increasingly dominated by a very small number of media giants on the west coast of America with extraordinary creative and financial firepower,” she said.
“Their investment decisions are increasingly likely to focus on a narrow range of very expensive, very high-end content - big bankers that they can rely on to have international appeal and attract large, global audiences.
“What this adds up to is that the volume and breadth of British content that British audiences rely upon is now under serious threat. There is a real risk that British stories that speak directly to British audiences will reduce and that over time, if we allow that to happen, our British sense of identity will weaken.”
BBC no longer a dominant force in television, says deputy director-general

Requiem was co-funded by Netflix
Ms Bulford, tipped as a candidate to become the next director-general, said the BBC is willing to forge partnerships with other public service broadcasters to “kickstart a new golden age for British production that safeguards our British identity”.
She also spoke of “collaborating to compete”, raising the prospect of more joint productions with US broadcasters. The current BBC One dramas, Requiem and Troy, were jointly funded by Netflix. McMafia and The Night Manager, also high profile dramas for BBC One, were co-productions with the US network AMC.
Sharon White, the chief executive of Ofcom, the BBC’s watchdog, also called on Britain’s public service broadcasters, led by the BBC but also including ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5, to collaborate to challenge the power of the tech giants.
She warned that public service broadcasting and homegrown British programming are under pressure from video consumption on smartphone and tablets, screens on which Silicon Valley dominates.
Ms White said: “In today’s era of uncertainty and volatility, we look to the public service broadcasters to provide programmes that reflect our changing society and help British viewers make sense of the world.
“With a few high-profile exceptions, the global players are not putting their money into UK stories.”
Britain’s television sector is increasingly alarmed by the way Silicon valley technology and cash its undermining its traditional prominence. Lord Hall, the director general of the BBC has claimed that homegrown programming budgets are meanwhile set to decline by ?500m per year over the next decade.
Britain’s traditional broadcasters are already working together to demand prominent menu positions from smart television manufacturers such as Samsung. Regulators believe the BBC could also join forces with commercial rivals to pool viewing data or promotion slots to push for concessions from tech giants.
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