Former BBC director general Greg Dyke has denied he "dumbed down" the corporation, saying he boosted TV news and drama during his time in office.
Greg Dyke faced criticism during his time as BBC director general
But he said a bid to attract younger people to BBC political programmes had not been "massively successful".
"We had to aim to have as wide an audience as possible," Mr Dyke told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.
Mr Dyke was in charge of the BBC from 2000 until January this year, facing press criticism during his tenure.
"There was a certified campaign across a number of newspapers at the time saying everything had got dumber," he said.
He disputed this by comparing BBC One's output in 2001 to that of the previous four decades.
"Each generation looks back on television and remembers the great programmes and thinks they were all like that," Mr Dyke said.
"But we found that there was much more news in peak time in 2001. Secondly there were far fewer American programmes."
Dyke said he would have liked to have put more comedy on BBC One
Mr Dyke said he would have liked to have put more comedy on BBC One during peak time, but finding comedy suitable for broadcast before the 9pm watershed was "pretty difficult nowadays".
He said when he took up the post of director general BBC One was under "a lot of criticism" and had been expected to "do better".
"We decided to spend an extra £100m on BBC One, most of which went onto new drama," Mr Dyke said.
"That stopped the decline in ratings for BBC One."
Following the last general election Mr Dyke looked at ways to "change and extend our political coverage to attract a younger audience".
He said "some ideas came up, some were tried, some are still being tried," but so far the initiative had not been "massively successful".
Today presenter John Humphrys asked Mr Dyke to speculate on the corporation's ability to adapt to the "new digital age" of broadcasting.
He asked: "Will the BBC as we now understand it be with us a generation from now?"
Mr Dyke replied: "Yes, almost certainly."
He was forced to resign in January after the Hutton report concluded the BBC had been wrong to claim the government "sexed up" Iraq weapons dossier.
Promoting his memoirs, Mr Dyke told BBC News 24 that his replacement Mark Thompson and new BBC chairman Michael Grade were "the right people for the job".
However, he criticised Mr Thompson's failure to quash rumours of job losses at the BBC.
"I am concerned that if the spectre of large-scale redundancy hangs over the place, morale will plummet," Mr Dyke said. "If you need to make cuts, then make cuts."
Mr Dyke's Channel 4 documentary, in which he re-told the story of events leading up to his resignation, was the lowest-rating terrestrial programme in its slot on Sunday.
Betrayed By New Labour drew 1.1 million viewers, representing 4.5% of the viewing public, beaten by ITV1's Heartbeat, BBC shows Monarch of the Glen and Get a New Life and Five's Something To Talk About.
On Monday Mr Dyke returned to BBC Television Centre in Shepherd's Bush, west London to sign copies of his book, Inside Story.