BBC chief Tony Hall is to take a swipe against digital giants including Netflix and Amazon, warning that they will “pluck” established talent “wherever they can find it” but have no interest in inspiring the next generation of creatives.
In a speech to BBC staff on Wednesday, the Director General will say that the British public broadcaster needs to “accelerate reform” as it faces a “David vs. Goliath” fight. He will admit that the BBC is “not the biggest kid on the block anymore”. “Old business models are being ripped up before our eyes,” he says in a preview of the speech.
“We can see now, more clearly than ever, that the global media landscape is likely to be dominated by four, perhaps five, businesses on the West Coast of America.
“These are global businesses determined not just to produce their own content, but to control how it’s distributed and marketed right around the world through their own branded gateways. They are businesses that will skilfully mine every ounce of personal data to drive growth and profit.”
“Today, Netflix and Amazon are available in over half of British homes,” he adds. “They are services that are admired and trusted. And yet, on average, the great majority of television output viewed in the UK each day is still British content, even among younger audiences.”
Amazon recently struck a wide-ranging deal with British writer and actor Sharon Horgan, while Netflix has inked exclusive deals with the likes of Ryan Murphy and Shonda Rhimes as well ordering a number of major series from British writers and producers. However, Hall warns, “The West Coast giants will pluck established talent wherever they can find it, but their business isn’t to inspire the next generation of British talent. That is our job – and right now, nobody does it better. It’s why Britain doesn’t need its own Netflix. It already has the BBC.”