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BBC hits back at Bradshaw as row grows

THE BBC&rsquo;s embattled&nbsp; director general Mark Thompson yesterday accused the government of trying to abolish the BBC Trust because the independent governing body opposed its own point of view.<br /><br />Thompson&rsquo;s attack on the government came at the Royal Television Society Cambridge conference, in which he responded to culture secretary Ben Bradshaw&rsquo;s comments that the BBC Trust was &ldquo;unsustainable&rdquo; and should be abolished.<br /><br />The BBC boss said: &ldquo;It&rsquo;s not difficult to suspect that the Trust was being penalised for doing what the government had created it to do, to consult the public, to be the guardians of the licence fee.&rdquo;<br /><br />&ldquo;The trouble with independent governing bodies is that they can be, well, independent,&rdquo; he said.<br /><br />Thompson&rsquo;s comments were the latest in a war of words between the BBC and the government. <br /><br />In his speech, Bradshaw had thanked BSkyB boss James Murdoch for raising questions over the size of the BBC, saying that &ldquo;the rest of the industry would be right to be worried&rdquo; if it continued to grow at the current pace.<br /><br />But the BBC&rsquo;s Thompson challenged Bradshaw over his criticism of the broadcaster&rsquo;s expansion plans over the past few years.<br /><br />&ldquo;They were approved by the government of which Bradshaw is a member,&rdquo; he said, branding the apparent change of heart as &ldquo;frankly puzzling&rdquo;.<br /><br />Shadow culture secretary Jeremy Hunt echoed the comments, lambasting the government for what he called its &ldquo;cowardly&rdquo; approach to media policy, and blamed the sector&rsquo;s woes on Labour&rsquo;s &ldquo;dithering&rdquo;.<br /><br />Hunt launched a scathing attack on Labour&rsquo;s U-turn on product placement and its proposals to top-slice the BBC&rsquo;s license fee funding, branding it &ldquo;nothing short of a complete and utter shambles&rdquo;.<br /><br />&ldquo;It is hard to find a sector that has suffered from so much dithering, so many U-turns and such a relentless conveyor belt of reviews and consultations that have ultimately led nowhere. This is no way to nurture any industry,&rdquo; he said.