BBC helps fund anti â€"top-slicing” union meeting

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The BBC is to help fund a union meeting set to lobby against ‘top slicing’of the licence fee to pay for local news on ITV, according to reports.

The Corporation is paying part of the cost of a fringe event at next month’s Labour Party conference at which leaders of the National Union of Journalists and Bectu are expected to argue against handing over a levy to commercial rivals of the BBC.

The Sunday Times says ‘informed sources’claim the BBC tried to keep secret the fact that it was funding the event, quoting one insider saying: ‘This is a very unusual arrangement and the idea was that it would never be made public”.

The paper says disclosure the corporation was helping third parties lobby on its behalf has caused controversy.

The BBC confirmed it was helping to fund the event, which will be attended by its chief operating officer Caroline Thompson, but said the fringe event could not be described as lobbying because it was open to a wide cross-section of the public.

The BBC also dismissed allegations that it was trying to hide its financial support.

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