The New York Times

Mark Thompson's Steve Hewlett Memorial Lecture speech

Check against delivery.

My subject this evening is sovereignty – though there won’t be much about Brexit tonight – and sadly no insights at all about today’s riveting developments.

The questions I plan to raise don’t depend on whether Brexit goes ahead. They’ll matter whether we stick with Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, or head down the pub with Boris and Nigel for a chorus of Roll Out the Barrel. Or even if it turns out we’ve been characters in a play by Samuel Beckett all along – Waiting for Brexit – and the whole point was that nothing was going to happen.

Mark Thompson warns government policies endanger the BBC at the Steve Hewlett Memorial Lecture

Mark Thompson, President and CEO of The New York Times Company (Credit: Paul Hampartsoumian)

Giving the third Steve Hewlett Memorial Lecture at London’s Westminster University, he accused policy makers of largely concentrating “on tightening the funding pressure and other constraints on the BBC further” including “the disastrous withdrawal of funding free licence fees for the over 75’s” agreed in the 2016 Charter now coming into full effect.