Jeremy Dear, the general secretary of the National Union of Journalists, has hit out at Prime Minister David Cameron’s ‘crass and insensitive’remarks about the cuts facing the BBC.
Cameron prompted much criticism on Friday when he referred to “delicious” cuts to the corporation when taking questions from journalists on the UK agreeing to a 2.9 per cent increase in its contribution to the European Union budget despite wholesale cuts being made domestically.
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According to The Telegraph, while responding to a question from Newsnight’s Michael Crick about how he would explain the increase, Cameron quipped:
‘I would explain patiently – as I hope you will on Newsnight – that we were facing a 6 per cent increase. We’ve pegged that back to 2.9 percent.
‘At the same time, I will say, we’re all in it together, including, deliciously, the BBC, who in another negotiation agreed a licence fee freeze for six years. So what is good for the EU is good for the BBC.”
As part of the Comprehensive Spending Review settlement last week the Government froze the licence fee for six years and instructed the BBC to take on the funding of the World Service as it shares in the pain of widespread public sector cuts.
Part of this will see the BBC also fund a £25m capital investment to get proposals for Local TV and online services off the ground. The Government has also asked the BBC to provide the one-off starter payment for Local TV then an annual fund of around £5m per year to help meet its running costs.
‘David Cameron’s comments, revelling in the prospect of people losing their jobs and services being axed, are crass and insensitive,’Dear told the Telegraph.
‘They appear to betray his real feelings about the BBC. He’s happy to hand over more money to the EU while cutting resources to one of our most important national institutions.”