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Digital Britain draws BBC fire

June 18, 2009

A central plank of the Digital Britain report – that the BBC license fee must help public broadcasting outside the BBC – has, as expected been shot down by the BBC.

Sir Michael Lyons said: "We recognise that there is work to do in never bigger than it needs to be. But we must also ensure that it remains strong enough to sit alongside the other big players in the broadcasting and media landscape: investing in high-quality journalism and other public service content, and supporting the creative economy.

We have to do this while helping others. That's why, following a challenge from the Trust, the BBC has come up with an ambitious programme of partnerships to help the wider industry support public service content during tough economic times. The BBC will continue discussions with Channel 4 about a possible joint venture with BBC Worldwide that would create value for both parties.

On behalf of licence fee payers, the BBC Trust opposes top-slicing…The licence fee must not become a slush fund to be dipped into at will, leading to spiralling demands on licence fee payers to help fund the political or commercial concerns of the day. This would lead to the licence fee being seen as another form of general taxation. The Trust will not sit quietly by and watch this happen."

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