Sir Michael Lyons: BBC Worldwide-C4 link 'very likely'

A partnership between Channel 4 and BBC Worldwide is ‘very likely’, the chairman of the BBC Trust said today.

When asked on BBC Radio 4’s The Media Show if the partnership – endorsed by culture secretary Andy Burnham last week – made sense, Sir Michael Lyons said: ‘That would obviously make sense, but they have to be partnerships which add value, don’t just transfer value.”

When asked if the partnership was likely, he said: ‘I think it’s very likely, [but] these things will take time…

‘Channel 4 have changed their position recently and become more and more serious about finding a partnership solution, and that’s to be welcomed.”

BBC Worldwide is the commercial division of the corporation and includes a large magazine publishing division.

Lyons refused to answer whether Jonathan Ross, back on television last week, was worth £6m a year, saying: ‘I don’t think that’s a question for me to answer.

‘I think it’s proper for me to ask whether in employing Jonathan Ross the BBC are making the market or following the market…what we clearly established is other people were willing to pay the same.”

He also refused to enter the debate on whether the BBC should broadcast the Disasters Emergency Committee Gaza appeal.

‘If you have an editor-in-chief it means exactly that – we have a director general who makes the final decision about what appears on television and radio,’said Lyons.

‘It’s not the job of the trust to replace his decision with their decision.”

Lyons also rejected the suggestion that the licence fee should be widely shared, for fear it becomes ‘general taxation’used for ‘any number of purposes”.

He also suggested BBC Worldwide – criticised for buying Lonely Planet, the travel information group, in 2007 – should have a ‘narrower remit”.

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