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UK delays BBC funding decision

November 18, 2009

The government is delaying until after the next election the decision on whether to force the BBC to share part of its £3.6bn (E4bn) licence fee income with producers of independent regional news programming.

In publishing the results of a short consultation of the proposals, originally laid out in the Digital Britain white paper in June, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport pulled out of a final clash with the BBC. Digital Britain said the government was committed to maintaining more than one source of regional news, apart from the BBC, in the interests of balance and impartiality, but admitted that its preferred solution of independently financed consortia operating in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the English regions would need public subsidy. The source of this funding has proved controversial, with the government wanting to take a £130m slice from the licence fee which is currently used to pay the costs of switching the UK's analogue television signal to digital.

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