The UK’s public service broadcasters must fight “west coast giants” to prevent the spread of “social unease and division” and “protect British values”.
That’s according to BBC director general Tony Hall as he prepares a speech to BBC staff in London this week.
Hall will take aim at ‘FANGA’ – Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Google and Apple – in a time of “breath-taking, seismic change”.
“Technology and social media can add to this sense of social unease and division. Too often, it can distort our view of one another and allow us to live in imagined communities where we only really engage with those who share our views,” Hall will say.
“Fake news compounds that challenge, eating away at trust in the media – including in the BBC – and blurring the lines between reality and so-called ‘alternative facts’.”
The BBC needs to undergo radical change to meet the challenge of its US counterparts, according to Hall, as old business models are being ripped up, and the media landscape is in danger of being dominated by FANGA.
“Their business isn’t to inspire the next generation of British talent,” Hall will say. Instead, he argues FANGA will “pluck established talent wherever they can find it, and skilfully mine every ounce of personal data to drive growth and profit”.
Hall is confident that public service broadcasting in the UK can continue to thrive, but only if it “accelerates reform” and getting it right is “vital for the future of British creativity”.
To enforce that idea, Hall will deliver plans to set a “gold standard” for broadcast news at the BBC; investing in and promoting new talent; backing creative ideas; reinventing and enhancing services such as iPlayer; and prioritising the engagement of young audiences.
He will note: “Nobody is fighting harder for Britain and for our audiences. In our fight against fake news... in our commitment to diverse communities the length and breadth of the UK ... in the values that we project to the rest of the world ... and in the creativity that means so much to every one of us.”