Jeremy Vine has said the BBC is currently facing its “hardest time” of the 33 years he has worked for the corporation.
The BBC Radio 2 presenter predicted the organisation will have to “justify itself all over again” because of the debate around the TV licence fee.
He added that supporters of the BBC cannot rely on arguments from “the 70s and the 80s”, and must prove its worth in the digital age.
Speaking at the Audio & Radio Industry Awards (Arias), Vine said: “I’ve been there 33 years. This is the hardest time, I would say.
“I’m not worried but I think the BBC needs to justify what it does all over again because the world has changed since we started.”
He added that the “old idea” was that “people need to get from the BBC something that they now don’t realise they like”.
“I think that’s difficult in the digital age because people really want what they want, and we’ve got to give people what they want and be really, really high-end about it,” he added.
“We’ve got to do Strictly and we’ve got to do the Proms and we’ve got to keep persuading people that they should fund both and it’s difficult.
“It’s about funding something that you don’t always listen to and watch yourself and it’s a very difficult argument in the modern age.”
Vine added that the BBC can “more than get over” the obstacles it currently faces, adding: “I think we’ll be stronger because we’ll have to persuade the public again of what we do and why we do it.”
Changes to the licencing system have been mooted by the Government, with former culture secretary Baroness Nicky Morgan saying last month
that the BBC must “move with the times” when she launched a consultation on the licence fee.
However, a Downing Street spokesman later said Prime Minister Boris Johnson is not looking to scrap “all licence fees” at this stage.
Vine added that he is concerned about cuts to the BBC’s news output, which will see the broadcaster make £80 million of savings, resulting in 450 job losses.
However, he added that he thinks the BBC’s journalism will remain of a high quality and said it is “very well run”.
“Look at the Prince Andrew interview: you can see we’re still punching above our weight in news, so I think we’ll get through it,” he said.
Vine said he was “really sad” about the loss of Victoria Derbyshire’s programme, which has been axed from its morning slot on BBC2, adding that the journalist is a “tremendous asset to the BBC”.
Vine joined the BBC in 1987 as a trainee in the news department.