views

BBC braced to oppose Digital Britain proposals

COMMUNICATIONS minister Lord Carter is expected to unveil his Digital Britain report tomorrow, ending months of speculation over his proposals for the BBC&rsquo;s licence fee.<br /><br />The report will outline the government&rsquo;s thinking on a range of subjects from high-speed broadband access to dealing with illegal file sharing and advertising downturns.<br /><br />But the most highly-anticipated proposal is Carter&rsquo;s plan to &ldquo;top-slice&rdquo; &pound;130m from the BBC&rsquo;s budget to pay for the production of regional news for ITV, which says it can no longer afford to make and broadcast it.<br /><br />The minister will suggest that the funds are re-allocated from the BBC&rsquo;s &ldquo;digital surplus&rdquo; &ndash; licence payers&rsquo; money which was ring-fenced for the switch over to digital TV. <br /><br />BBC Trust chairman Sir Michael Lyons has fiercely opposed the suggestion, saying recently that licence payers gave the money in good faith that it would be used for BBC purposes.<br /><br />The BBC will also oppose the idea of the introduction of licence fee reviews by ministers, which could lead to more political interference. <br /><br />The report is likely to support a partnership between struggling Channel 4 and BBC Worldwide.