What!!! Andrew, do you really think the BBC won, a showdown where it was George Osborne's choice as to what policies he implemented (hardly the conditions for a showdown)? The BBC have been totally and utterly out-manoeuvred.
It used to frustrate me that Labour would play the game of saying, "we will use tax on x to pay for y." The reality is of course, if x can't be collected, then the amount is a net subtraction from the whole of the government budget as it run's across everything. When, as a politician, you say "I'm using x to pay for y," really you are just cherry picking an emotive y to make it appear as though taking x is justified and there is a sense of course (but only a sense), in which the argument holds water.
The Tories are beginning to use the same trick. But Osborn has gone further. By saying he is taking BBC budget to pay some of the welfare bill, he's executing a jujitsu like move, employing the BBC's liberal bias against them. The "use x to pay for y" trick makes it appear, if the BBC argue, as though they are hypocritically valuing the benefit of .e.g Eastenders higher than the value of e.g. benefits for the disabled. The BBC will be tying themselves in knots trying to answer that one (even though it is a trick for the weak minded - the BBC have been doing the same themselves for years, and know how well it works). It seems Hall knows the game is lost on that score and didn't even starting to make the argument.
But more than that, Osborn has made it appear as though he's being beneficent by saying the BBC will be allowed to charge for the iPlayer. But really he has laid a massive bear trap that means they have been opened up to subscription competition. It's no sure thing the BBC will get many subscribers for iPlayer. Indeed the likelihood is that they will get rather fewer than many might think (I work in the digital television industry, and the word is the iPlayer is bombing as compared with competition). They will be competing with Netflix and the like, and modern streaming services are proving very popular, host some great drama, and have also moved into the production of very well executed original content. Use of the BBC iPlayer is almost dead amongst our student population (e.g. the next generation - and the BBC should be very worried indeed about this trend) and that's even though currently it is free to use.
If the BBC failed to say thank you they are making it clear they are scared of competition and didn't feel they could sufficiently compete (in which case why should they be getting the funding they currently are). So Hall has plumbed for stepping in Osborne's bear trap, putting on a brave face and said a very public "thanks". But once they start charging a subscription, then they will firmly establish the principle that their funding can be obtained by a fair subscription rather than a regressive flat tax. Osborne has successfully started to lever the limpet away from state tax (as to all intents and purposes the license fee is). Now Osborne has succeeded in getting a knife under the limpet's skirt, extreme pressure will be applied from here on out!
So the BBC's funding have been cut, with an arbitrary but cleverly presented comparison with welfare budget and they have been offered the opportunity to make up the shortfall in a context where they will have to compete on a commercial playing field and where there is no guarantee they will succeed, and where tactically in the long term, when it becomes clear they aren't competing, they will find it very difficult to say "we need to be bailed out with a bigger proportion of our funding via the license fee"
It seems Osborn is playing something of a tactical long game, and he's doing it rather well. It's cynical, but it's the kind of tactics Labour have been playing for years (Gordon Brown's tax credits being a good example).