The NUJ is calling for the BBC licence fee deal to be re-examined following claims in the Telegraph that the Tories scrapped a policy to top-slice the licence and share money with other broadcasters after being asked to by James Murdoch.
NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said: “Reports in the Daily Telegraph show that the Tories abandoned a plan which would ‘top slice’ the BBC licence fee and support other public service broadcasting because James Murdoch didn’t like it.
“David Cameron and his colleagues have been shamelessly prioritising the commercial interests of the Murdochs over those of the British public. The shabby deal on the BBC licence fee settlement was done behind closed doors last autumn, with no democratic scrutiny or transparent discussion. It marked a watershed in the BBC's 89-year history.
“The decision to freeze the licence fee for the next six years has led to the axing of vital language services at the BBC World Service and the imposition of 20 per cent spending cuts across the BBC. Quality public service journalism and the BBC audiences are suffering the consequences of this deal, clearly taken at a time when huge pressure was being exerted by News Corporation.
“The dodgy licence fee deal must now be re-examined as a matter of urgency in light of the latest revelations."
A senior source told the Telegraph: "The last thing Sky wanted was other broadcasters getting a slice of the licence fee. The policy was amended accordingly."In 2009, the "Digital Britain" white paper by the then Labour government proposed a top-slicing deal which would have seen £130 million taken from the BBC's licence fee and used to fund independent regional news as well as children's programmes.