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24th October 2006 Lorna Shaddick

BBC Director General Visits Exeter

Mark Thompson, the Director General of the BBC, started his talk to Exonians on Sunday 22nd October by comparing the institution of which he is in charge to Exeter College…driving economists mad but retaining a great deal of cultural credibility!

Mr Thompson went on to outline some of the challenges facing the BBC, both in its worldwide and national broadcasting and internally. While emphasising that a key reason for the BBC’s success is its conservation of what are seen to be core values, he also talked of the need to evolve and adapt, in particular in expanding its provision of digital and multimedia technology. The BBC’s website is one of the largest in the world, for example, getting over 3.2 billion page views per month, but Mr Thompson felt it was part of the first digital wave and needed reconceiving. Internationally, the BBC has prospered in North America thanks to a growing lack of confidence in the US Media, and he felt this was due in part to the BBC’s underlying values of impartiality, accuracy and excellence. The challenge it faces is how to continue to ensure the service’s relevance to most of the UK population, while remaining distinctive.

Mr Thompson took questions afterwards on subjects ranging from BBC presence in Asia to the demise of living room TV in favour of solitary watching on the internet. A packed Saskatchewan Room certainly appreciated his clear and informative talk and comprehensive responses to questions. Students also enjoyed the chance to chat to him at post-chapel sherry later in the evening.

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