BBC Trust responds to Digital Britain report

The BBC Trust has issued its response to the Digital Britain report, with the Trust's chairman, Sir Michael Lyons, stating there are both "problems to be addressed and opportunities to be grasped".

In its role as the "guardian" of the licence fee, the Trust has commented on proposals from the report that would see the transfer of licence fee money from the BBC to other interests, including regional news organisations.

Lyons says the BBC Trust "opposes" such "top-slicing", stating: "Top-slicing would damage BBC output, reduce accountability and compromise independence. The licence fee must not become a slush fund to be dipped into at will, leading to spiralling demands on licence fee payers to help fund the political or commercial concerns of the day. This would lead to the licence fee being seen as another form of general taxation".

Lyons says: "The Trust will not sit quietly by and watch this happen".

Proposals that the Trust does support include a possible joint venture with BBC Worldwide and Channel 4, and the possibility that any surplus money left over from the Digital Switchover Help Scheme being returned to licence fee payers (a sum that could be around £9 per household) in around 2013.

The Trust is now calling for "full and considered public discussion" of the proposals, including input from licence fee payers.


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