Media heads back Murdoch

THE FORMER editor of the Guardian Peter Preston has said that the whole of the media industry supports News Corp chief executive James Murdoch&rsquo;s view that the BBC should charge for its on-line news content.<br /><br />The comments, posted on Preston&rsquo;s Guardian blog, follow Murdoch&rsquo;s attack on the BBC in an address at the Edinburgh International Television Festival on Friday.<br /><br />Murdoch criticised the BBC&rsquo;s free delivery of digital news content, saying that it is &ldquo;essential for the future of independent digital journalism that a fair price can be charged for news to people who value it.&rdquo;<br /><br />Preston wrote that &ldquo;everybody &ndash; from the chief executive of the Guardian Media Group to the editor of the Independent to the lords of the Mail&rdquo; agreed.<br /><br />&ldquo;How does a newspaper that wants (nay, needs) to move on to the web and pay for the words it puts there, cope when the BBC dishes them out for free?&rdquo; he asked.<br /><br />Murdoch also said the BBC is crowding out new and existing news providers. Channel Five chief executive Dawn Airey is understood to agree, and has suggested the BBC should be reduced to &ldquo;a couple&rdquo; of licence fee-funded TV and radio stations with a clear remit.