The government last night said the BBC's licence fee could be shared with other broadcasters to pay for public service programming. The culture secretary, James Purnell, promised to be "bold" in devising a new structure for broadcasting and may bring forward legislation to preserve the public service ethos in the digital world.
It is the first time the government has admitted it is considering the move and Purnell said it would be "perverse" not to ask whether or not some of the licence fee should go to other providers. He asked: "Do we think it's sustainable for every penny of the licence fee to go to a single organisation in an industry which now has very many providers?"
He is believed to have decided to address the issue head on after the BBC's chairman, Sir Michael Lyons, suggested that "top slicing" the licence fee might harm the corporation's output.
Friday, January 18, 2008
From Owen Gibson for Media Guardian: