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February 4, 2008

New culture secretary’s ‘open mind’ on licence fee

By colinc

The new culture secretary, Andy Burnham, has said he is keeping “an open mind” on the possibility of giving some of the licence fee to the BBC’s competitors amid fresh calls for it to be split.

In an interview in today’s Daily Telegraph, Burnham said he backed his predecessor James Purnell’s suggestion, that the issue needed to be addressed.

There have also been fresh calls for the BBC to share the licence fee after research by regulator Ofcom revealed that 91 per cent of Welsh people believed ITV was important in providing regional news coverage as well as the BBC.

One former head of news and current affairs at BBC Wales, Aled Eurig, suggested allocating 5 per cent of the licence fee for news and regional programming on ITV, according to a report in the Western Mail.

Burnham is set to meet the BBC Trust chairman Sir Michael Lyons to explain the Government’s views.

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