Coalition accused of ‘dodgy deal’ with BBC

Shadow culture minister Ivan Lewis has demanded an inquiry into the rushed nature of the deal between the BBC and the coalition government that saw the licence fee frozen for six years.

Lewis called it a “dodgy deal” and now wants ministers to answer questions concerning how the it was reached, and what it means for the future of the broadcaster.

He said the deal “rode roughshod over the independence of the BBC, crushed any serious prospect of reform and involved no consultation with licence fee payers or parliamentarians”.

Though it usually takes up to a year for the government and BBC to negotiate the licence fee, it only took a week of horsetrading behind closed doors between culture secretary Jeremy Hunt, BBC director general Mark Thompson and BBC Trust chairman Sir Michael Lyons to come to an agreement.

It resulted in freezing the licence fee at £145.50 until 2017, a 16 per cent cut in real terms funding for the Corporation. All three will be subject to scrutiny if Lewis’s request for an inquiry is granted.

The government’s relationship with the BBC has been strained by Hunt’s demands that the Corporation faces up to an “age of austerity”.

It has also accepted fiscal responsibility for local TV ventures and the World Service.

(Source: MediaGuardian)

This article appears in issue 258 of Media Digest.

Image taken by Flickr user miss_rogue, licensed under Creative Commons.

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