Wednesday 9 September 2009

BBC Trust chairman says new survey shows public don't want top-slicing of licence fee

Sir Michael Lyons, chairman of the BBC Trust, comes out strongly against any move to top-slice the licence fee in an open letter to licence fee payers today.
He writes "Based on emerging findings from our new survey research, the Trust believes that if, in future licence fee settlements, there was money the BBC did not need, the public would not want it hived off and given to other media outlets.
"Our research offered six possible options for what should happen to the licence fee once current spending on digital switchover is complete. Around half of those asked would prefer the licence fee to be lowered by £5.50, compared to just six percent who wanted additional money to be spent on regional news on other channels."
"That reinforces our concern about any attempt to use the licence fee to subsidise commercial operators, as proposed by the Government in its Digital Britain report. This would weaken the BBC; threaten its independence; reduce accountability to licence fee payers and could in time lead to a bigger licence fee because it could merge with general taxation and be used for causes that have nothing to do with broadcasting."
Sir Michael added: "We want a BBC that is smarter, more efficient and no bigger than it needs to be. Above all, a BBC that maintains its independence, continues to be a trusted source of impartial news, produces great output and meets the high expectations you have of it."

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