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Murdoch revelations underline need to re-examine BBC licence

25 July 2011

Evidence has emerged that the Conservative Party changed broadcasting policy at the prompting of News Corporation's James Murdoch. The NUJ said that this underlines the need to reassess the current disastrous BBC licence fee deal.

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said:

"Reports in the Daily Telegraph show that the Tories abandoned a plan which would 'top slice' the BBC licence fee and support other public service broadcasting because James Murdoch didn't like it.
"This confirms our warnings about the sinister influence wielded by the Murdochs over government.
"David Cameron and his colleagues have been shamelessly prioritising the commercial interests of the Murdochs over those of the British public. The shabby deal on the BBC licence fee settlement was done behind closed doors last autumn, with no democratic scrutiny or transparent discussion. It marked a watershed in the BBC's 89-year history.
"The decision to freeze the licence fee for the next six years has led to the axing of vital language services at the BBC World Service and the imposition of 20 per cent spending cuts across the BBC. Quality public service journalism and the BBC audiences are suffering the consequences of this deal, clearly taken at a time when huge pressure was being exerted by News Corporation.
"The dodgy licence fee deal must now be re-examined as a matter of urgency in light of the latest revelations. The deal should be undone and there should be the proper transparent and open debate with staff and stakeholders about the future funding of the BBC that was called for – and ignored by the government – at the time."

Tags: , bbc, broadcasting, conservative party, james murdoch, rupert murdoch, bbc licence fee, news corp