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BBC Deputy D-G: “We’ll reinvent iPlayer”

Anne Bulford, Deputy Director-General of the BBC, has reiterated Director-General Tony Hall’s assertion that the BBC needs to reinvent itself for the online, content everywhere era, with a reinvention of catch-up service iPlayer part of such changes.

Delivering a Keynote Speech at the DTG Summit in London, Bulford suggested that delegates understand the forces that are shaping the new age, and recognised their speed and impact. “But we’re also here because, ultimately, none of us knows what exactly the new age of television will look like. These are extraordinarily dynamic and fast-changing times for our industry,” she declared.

“In uncertain times, it is often said that the best way of predicting the future is to create it – and this is the business we are in. And one thing we can be sure of is that, where we face common challenges across the industry, collaboration and thinking collectively will continue to be key,” she said, paying tribute to the work of the DTG.

Touching on some of the common challenges the broadcast industry faces, Bulford addressed the key priorities that are driving the work of the BBC as its seek to respond and deliver on an ambitious new vision for the years ahead.

“We know that younger people and indeed older people are consuming media in increasingly different ways, and we face extraordinary competition for people’s time,” she admitted. “We need to do much more to reach audiences – whoever and wherever they are, and however they wish to consume us – and we need to do much more to make sure that our programmes and services cut through in an extraordinarily competitive, global space. Above all, our goal is to make sure that the BBC works for all audiences, young and old. To make sure that everyone gets value from the BBC,” she stated.

“We want the BBC during this Charter to be defined by boldness and originality, not just on screen, but also in the online space – where competition is highest, new audiences are most present, and we can serve them in brilliant new ways,” she said.

“That means reinventing iPlayer; making the very most of our world-class audio content; making the most of new technologies like AI, voice recognition, and VR; transforming the BBC’s public services to be more open, more creative, and to be available when and where the public wants them,” she added.

One area that Bulford believed was absolutely essential to the BBC’s success in the future, “something that responds to the fact that audience behaviours are delivering viewing and listening patterns that we have never seen before. And that’s personalisation” she noted.

“Tony Hall has called it ‘the myBBC revolution’ – reinventing public service broadcasting through data. We know that data is creating a flight to quality. It means audiences can find the best of public service broadcasting – when they sign in. But we want to do it in a very BBC way – not telling you ‘what customers like you bought’, but what citizens like you might love to watch and need to know. By finding out more about our audiences and what they like, we can make better content, make it more relevant, and bring it to them more effectively,” she said.

“We believe that the closer and more personal our relationship with our audiences, the more they will choose the BBC. Our goal is that, by the time we reach our centenary year in 2022, we will have reinvented a BBC that is irresistible to all our audiences. In a world of near-limitless choice, we want people to keep choosing us for our British content and viewpoint on the world. But above all by our centenary, I want us to have shown that public service broadcasting has even more to offer the whole of the UK – all of its communities in all of its nations and regions – and even more to offer Britain in the world in its second hundred years than it did in its first,” she concluded.

 

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