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Sky offers to work with BBC after Lord Hall warning of Netflix and Amazon threat

Sky has rejected BBC director-general Tony Hall’s claims that the future of British-made television programmes such as Sherlock and Broadchurch is under “serious threat”.

In a direct attack on Lord Hall’s speech last week, Gary Davey, managing director of Content Sky, labelled the BBC’s warning of a potential £500 million shortfall over the next decade as “bizarre” and accused the corporation of asking for handouts and greater protection from competition.

He said the BBC should “rise to the challenge of competition” and work with new partners, including Sky, to “back the UK production sector”.

(Anthony Devlin/PA)

Lord Hall had warned that British programmes were under threat amid the rise of global competitors who he accused of having a “damaging impact on UK distinctiveness, risk-taking and innovation”.

“If anything, the exact opposite is true. What he sees as a threat, I see as an opportunity,” Mr Davey wrote in today’s Daily Telegraph. “The pond may be bigger, but Britain is a very big fish – and it is still growing.”

“There is no reason why Sky couldn’t co-produce shows with PSBs (public service broadcasters) here in the UK,” he added.

BBC New Broadcasting House (Frank Augstein/AP/PA)

Citing an Ofcom report, he claimed that public service broadcasters were to blame for a growing deficit on first-run UK content and said British production was “leading the charge” in raising the quality of television.

“We already work with Amazon, and Britannia, the show we’re producing together, will offer everything that’s great about British television – British actors, script, story, and that unique British grit you just can’t copy.”

Mr Davey described Lord Hall’s claim that the TV industry was “sleepwalking” towards a long-term weakening of television production as “simply absurd”, adding: “I can’t speak for the BBC, but I haven’t noticed any of my colleagues in the production community sleepwalking.”

He referenced successes from global companies such as HBO’s Game Of Thrones, AMC’s Walking Dead and Netflix’s The Crown.

“The BBC might feel threatened, but not the rest of us. And we’re just getting started,” Mr Davey said.

In his speech last week, Lord Hall presented findings from BBC research which suggested spending on UK programming could fall by half a billion pounds in real terms over the next 10 years.