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BBC could make TV for competitors

BBC boss Tony Hall wants an overhaul of programme-making at the corporation which could see it creating shows for rivals - as well as screening more shows made by competitors on its channels.

The director-general is to outline his proposals for an open market in TV production - which would mean changes to the Royal Charter when it is renewed in three years - at a seminar later today.

It would involve ending the current system which ensures half of BBC television programmes are made in-house, opening them up to rivals.

He said the system which ensures that half of all BBC TV programmes are made in-house should end. But, according to the BBC, he is also calling for the corporation to be allowed to make programmes for other broadcasters in return to increase its revenue.

Lord Hall's idea was being floated at an industry get-together today as he appeared among speakers at a seminar on the future of the licence fee at City University, in central London.

Alternatives to the BBC's traditional funding method have been proposed by politicians, performers and former corporation staff in the run-up to the renewal of its charter which expires in 2016.

In May, Culture Secretary Sajid Javid said "everything" would be looked at, including licence fees and governance structures, when negotiations get under way.

Senior Tories have previously called the compulsory annual charge made to viewers - currently frozen at £145.50 a year - out of date and warned it faces the axe but BBC executives insist a subscription system could end up costing more money.

Lord Hall believes his proposals would "level the playing field".

Roughly a quarter of the BBC output is made by independent companies, but big hits such as Top Gear and Doctor Who are produced internally.

Renewal negotiations will take place on the back of a torrid few years that have seen the corporation lambasted for its handling of the Jimmy Savile scandal, massive executive pay-offs and a Newsnight investigation that led to the late Lord McAlpine being wrongly accused of child abuse.

Mr Javid's Labour counterpart Harriet Harman has described the licence fee as "a means to an end" and said alternatives should be considered, while comedy writer Armando Iannucci suggested the corporation should look at an international subscription model.

A move to decriminalise non-payment has had substantial cross-party support, but the BBC has warned an immediate switch would hit funding for its services by encouraging evasion.

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