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BBC To Be Biggest Loser Of Lord Carter's Digital Britain Report

The BBC is set to lose its exclusivity on the licence fee for the first time in the 87 years since the funding scheme started as the government scrambles to find ways to help under-pressure broadcasting rivals.

This comes amidst rumours from the Evening Standard, that the BBC is lobbying the government to encourage the public to decide on who should get the licence fee money (ed: Britain Broadcasting Got Talent competition anyone?)

Various sources report that up to £130 million will be diverted from the digital switchover surplus, which was set up to help thousands migrate seamlessly from analogue to digital network, will be used to help ITV and possibly Channel 4.

Both broadcasters have been struggling financially as revenues from advertising dwindled, forcing ITV and Channel 4 to proceed to deep cuts both in the number of employees and the breadth of programmes they offer.

It is understood that around £100 million of the surplus will be invested in independently-produced regional news programming and children's programming by ITV, which would provide an alternative to BBC's powerful regional and Cbeebies channels.

The Guardian has also revealed that £30 million from the licence fee could be diverted into programmes specifically designed for the web and which would come handy as the Beeb, together with ITV and BT, embark on Project Canvas.

Around 25 million homes pay the £142.50 annual levy to the TV License organisation and the £3.6 billion revenue generated help the BBC produce quality content and respect the covenants that bind the Corporation to the British public.

The £130 million that are rumoured to be siphoned from the TV License coffers represent a mere 3.6 percent of the annual total. It is estimated that that around 400 Senior BBC managers earn around £160 million (probably more).

Back in 2006-2007, it was revealed that the top forty stars of the corporation earned in excess of £50 million per year. Jonathan Ross on his own is reported to earn £18 million on a 3 year contract.

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Our Comments

It is likely that the BBC already knows the content of the Digital report and decided to do pre-emptive cuts. It is reportedly looking into pay cuts of up to 40 percent for some of its highest earners. That said, many of them were already paying half of their salaries to the government so a pay cut may not sound that devastating.

Related Links

BBC bids to stall licence fee carve-up (opens in new tab)

£30m of BBC licence fee to be diverted to web programming (opens in new tab)

BBC faces £130m cut to licence fee (opens in new tab)

Beeb to hand £130m in licence cash to ITV (opens in new tab)

Forthcoming Digital Britain report could remove the BBCs monopoly license fee (opens in new tab)

BBC must learn to share the TV licence fee cake (opens in new tab)

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.