Outrage as telephone tax looms

MILLIONS could be hit by a new &ldquo;telephone tax&rdquo; under government plans to fund broadband for all.<br /><br />Lord Carter&rsquo;s long-awaited Digital Britain Report, published yesterday, outlined plans to slap a &pound;6-a-year levy on households with a telephone line to help pay for universal broadband access.<br /><br />The TaxPayers&rsquo; Alliance last night said it was &ldquo;inappropriate&rdquo; to ask consumers to pay for a service, regardless of whether they wanted it or not.<br /><br />&ldquo;It&rsquo;s disgraceful to put another tax on people just for using the most basic of services,&rdquo; said TaxPayers&rsquo; Alliance campaign manager Susie Squire. &ldquo;It is not a lot of money. But it is yet another stealth tax and people will be unwilling to foot the bill&rdquo;.<br /><br />And shadow culture secretary Jeremy Hunt called the tax an &ldquo;old economy solution to a new economy problem&rdquo;.<br /><br />Meanwhile, the BBC reacted angrily to plans to use the &pound;200m-a-year it was given for digital switchover to fund regional news programming on commercial rivals such as ITV.<br /><br />And local newspaper owners will be disappointed that the report has not recommended the relaxation of merger rules, which could have led to scores of paper-saving mergers across the industry.<br /><br />There was also frustration that the report failed to provide a concrete solution to Channel 4&rsquo;s funding problem.