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Lord Hall: ‘94% of population turned to BBC’ during pandemic

Lord Hall speaking to the BBC's Andrew Marr programme

People have “turned to the BBC in their droves” in recent weeks, according to the BBC’s Director General.

Speaking to the BBC’s Andrew Marr, Tony Hall said 94% of the UK accessed the BBC for “information, entertainment or education” during the pandemic.

It comes as he ‘took his hat off’ to staff who have created “excellent” content, even though 92% of the workforce are now working from home.

Lord Hall said the BBC could lose £125 million in licence fee revenue

He said he recognised the need for a “big debate” about the future of the BBC.

The director general, who is set to leave his role in the summer, said younger audiences had been coming back to the BBC during the lockdown, with shows such as Normal People becoming huge hits.

Lord Hall also credited this success to its “biggest ever educational programme”, as well the launch of Culture in Quarantine, arts and culture service which Lord Hall says keeps “the arts alive in people’s homes and support the arts sector during challenging times.”

He was pressed on plans to bring back BBC Three as a regular TV channel, four years after it was taken off air and moved online to save costs.

Lord Hall said the initial plans had been a “fantastic, creative success” and shows “the importance of developing our iPlayer, developing our sounds and making sure that our new services are in tip top position for young audiences to come to.”

However, he acknowledged that the broadcaster could potentially lose £125 million as a result of coronavirus, meaning it would have to spend “wisely” in future – adding that he hopes there will be a “big debate” about how the BBC should be funded post 2027, when the current charter comes to an end.

“The question is, what’s the best way of funding that universally so that everybody, this great democratic idea, gets something we can all share.

“I hope even when I’ve left I can take part in that debate and we should look at the easiest way to pay, learn from what happens in other countries, are there fairer ways to pay, but the underpinning for all that is the idea of a BBC which is providing something for everyone,” Lord Hall said.

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