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BBC Boss ‘Confident’ Over Licence Fee

Mark Thompson, director general of the BBC, says he’s upbeat over government negotiations to renew the £3.5 billion ($5.5 billion) licence fee. Talks over the next 4-year licence fee settlement, which runs 2013-16, are due to start next summer. The BBC has been having a bad time of it lately, rocked by scandals over executive pay and the amount it pays stars. Thompson, interviewed at today’s Royal Television Society International Conference in London, denied public perception of the Beeb has been damaged. If anything, he said, the public’s estimation of the BBC has gone up. The coalition government may still cut 2012’s licence fee, while the Beeb would like a 2% rise. It’s already offered to freeze this year’s licence fee. Right now every UK household pays for BBC service through a TV licence fee of £145.50 ($227).

Thompson suggested Brit TV viewers may be able to buy programmes through its new internet TV YouView service, which is due to launch spring 2011. The one-week window when viewers can watch BBC shows for free via the iPlayer will stay, Thompson said. But the director general said viewers may be able to download programmes to keep, much as you can buy BBC DVDs in shops today.

The BBC boss said the Corporation would not provide even more local news coverage. Thompson said the Corporation needs to make services it already runs better rather than expand further. Thompson was responding to UK culture secretary … Read More »

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BBC Freezes Its TV Licence Fee For 2 Years

UPDATE: In announcing the freeze, the BBC has bowed to the inevitable. New UK Prime Minister David Cameron first called for the licence fee to be frozen in March. TV consultant Claire Enders of Enders Analysis tells me this is a ”sensible approach from the BBC to accept that it does not require this additional income to fulfill its responsibilities.” And budget trims of 3% sound measly at a time government departments are facing 25% reductions. But BBC Trust, the Beeb’s governing body, warns that £144 million will have to be chopped from planned budgets. Responds the TV Producers’ lobbyist PACT: “We are alarmed at what impact this may have on the TV programme budget and the consequences that any further reduction will have on individual programme budgets, which are already Read More »

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