BBC Trust chairman warns against splitting licence fee money

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A government minister has said for the first time that the BBC licence fee could be shared between rival broadcasters and even internet news services. This morning’s Financial Times reports that culture secretary James Purnell questioned whether it was “sustainable for every penny of the licence fee to go to a single organisation”.

Speaking at the Oxford Media Convention yesterday, Purnell was speculating as to what his Department of Culture, Media and Sport may conclude in its review of public service broadcasting – which will form part of the new Comunications Act 2011.

The Times today says that Sir Michael Lyons, chairman of the BBC Trust, warned against “top-slicing” the licence fee money in case the system of public service broadcast funding becomes less accountable.

As of the beginning of December, some 343 BBC News staff had applied for voluntary redundancy – offered to staff after a lower-then-expected licence fee settlement.

In December BBC Director General Mark Thompson told the cross-party House of Lords Communications Committee that the licence fee should not be used to fund ITV.

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