Steve Hewlett Memorial Lecture

Mark Thompson's Steve Hewlett Memorial Lecture speech

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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.  

Charlotte Moore: "We risk seeing fewer and fewer distinctively British stories"

Three Girls, written by Nicole Taylor (Credit: BBC)

Further evidence that the BBC is striking a more strident tone as it calls for greater resources in the streaming era was provided by the corporation’s director of content, Charlotte Moore, in her recent Steve Hewlett Memorial Lecture.

In a wide-ranging and, at times, feisty speech aimed primarily at policy­makers and politicians, Moore argued that trusted, authentic British storytellers in the tradition of Hewlett risked being undermined unless the BBC was properly funded.

Charlotte Moore's Steve Hewlett Memorial Lecture | Full Video

BBC Director of Content, Charlotte Moore, delivers the Steve Hewlett Memorial Lecture 2018, a joint initiative by the RTS and the Media Society.

Moore talked of the threat to British content for British audiences with the rise in popularity of US streaming services like Netflix and Amazon, and spoke of the key ways the BBC will aim to promote content bespoke to Britain in the future.

To donate to the Steve Hewlett Memorial Fund, please visit www.rts.org.uk/SteveHewlettFund.

BBC's Charlotte Moore highlights the importance of British TV at the Steve Hewlett Memorial Lecture

Delivering the Steve Hewlett Memorial Lecture, Moore echoed recent remarks made by BBC Director General, Tony Hall, in which he called for more funding for the BBC or investment in U.K. programmes would fall still further.

“In this new, US-dominated media environment, we run the risk of seeing fewer and fewer distinctively British stories.

“In a world of incredible, unprecedented choice, the irony is that British audiences may find it harder and harder to choose the stories that matter to them most,” said Moore.