Wednesday 16 September 2009

TUC comes out against top-slicing licence fee

Delegates at the TUC have backed a motion against top-slicing the BBC licence fee and instead called on the government to use industry levies to help ensure that quality content, like news and current affairs, is still provided on commercial channels.
Proposing the TUC motion, NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear (pictured) condemned government plans to give 3.5 per cent of the licence fee to commercial broadcasters: “Let’s put this in to perspective – it is the equivalent of a Labour government taking money from NHS hospitals and handing it over to private health contractors.
“We’re clear. There is a funding crisis for other public service broadcasters – for ITV for Channel 4 – they should be supported to protect excellent public service programming and to deliver quality local news.
“But contrary to the claims of government ministers that there is no alternative to top-slicing the BBC, to undermining the independence of the corporation, to calling in to question the link between the BBC and the licence fee payer, to opening up the licence fee to be raided by future governments, there are other options – but they require a political commitment to defending the public service against commercial interests.”
Dear also took a swipe at James Murdoch, claiming:"If James Murdoch ran BUPA he’d attack the NHS, if he ran a private school he’d savage state education – he doesn’t – he runs a private media organisation and he is attacking the BBC.”
A motion adopted by the conference declared the government’s Digital Britain report to be “a woefully inadequate response" to the crisis facing public service broadcasting.

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