In his first major interview since taking over from Sir Michael Lyons at the BBC's governing body nearly six months ago, Lord Patten told The Observer that the BBC is "a moral force, a theatre company and a news organisation".
Before he started at the Trust, the only BBC programme that Lord Patten could claim to have enjoyed was a documentary called Mud, Sweat and Tractors: the Story of Agriculture on BBC Four. But now he professes to have watched dramas The Hour, Page Eight, Sherlock and Danish series The Killing. He also praised "a couple of really classy programmes on the war in Afghanistan on BBC Three".
Lord Patten admitted that there were question marks over the rationale for the BBC licence fee, which is charged to all TV viewers. He said that "there's a growing disjuncture between the technology and the tax".
There has been criticism that the licence fee is becoming outdated as more people access television programmes via computers, smartphones and tablets away from the linear schedule.
"More and more people are not watching on a television," said Lord Patten.
"That doesn't deal with the intellectual case for a form of taxation to pay for a public good, but it does raise issues about what that tax should be based on."
The BBC is currently evaluating a programme of wide-ranging cuts under the new licence fee settlement agreed last year that reduces its income by 16% in real terms up to 2017.
Elsewhere in the interview, the former Conservative party chairman said that the BBC "should have more women on radio and television," singling out Radio 4's Sarah Montague and Martha Kearney as being among the "good ones".
"I'm 67, for heaven's sake, and I'm married to a charming and beautiful 66-year-old, and I would be delighted if she was the face of anything on television," he said.
He also praised newsreader and Antiques Roadshow presenter Fiona Bruce as an example of the positive impact of female talent at the BBC.
The BBC pledged two years ago to bring on more female talent, particularly older women, to present its programmes following criticism from various quarters.
It later announced that Julia Somerville, Fiona Armstrong, Zeinab Badawi and Carole Walker had been appointed to front its news coverage.
However, Walker described the move as "nothing more than a PR stunt".
"It is now 16 months since the BBC announced that I was to be one of four older women presenters on the BBC News Channel," she said in an interview.
"Last year I was given fewer than 20 days in the role. This year so far I have been given just one presenting shift."
Earlier in the year, former Countryfile presenter Miriam O'Reilly won a landmark age discrimination case against the BBC over the decision to axe her from the programme.
O'Reilly was later re-hired to present BBC One's daytime programme Crimewatch Roadshow.
Newsreader Anna Ford reignited the debate about ageism against women at the BBC in February, after criticising the contracts awarded to "charming dinosaurs" like David Dimbleby.
Lord Patten's comments come after a Conservative MP was criticised for accusing female BBC newsreaders of "smiling" while reading serious news stories and using too much Botox .