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Shadow culture secretary: Government is using charter renewal process to eviscerate the BBC

By PA Mediapoint

BBC charter renewal is being used by the Government to diminish the broadcaster and boost its competitors, Labour has claimed.

"Eviscerating" the BBC is the only thing the Prime Minister, the Chancellor and the Culture Secretary agree on, shadow culture secretary Maria Eagle claimed in a swipe over divisions about the EU.

She accused Culture Secretary John Whittingdale of ignoring public satisfaction with the broadcaster and using the BBC charter renewal as a way of cutting its output.

The BBC's future is up for discussion after the Government published a green paper last July. A new charter agreeing the BBC's remit and funding for the next ten years has to be concluded this year.

Eagle told the House of Commons: "Bashing the BBC is the one thing the Secretary of State and the Prime Minister and the Chancellor agree about these days.

"They all want to use charter renewal to eviscerate the BBC, to do its competitors a favour rather than do what the licence fee-paying public want to see.

"They just don't seem to accept the British people like the BBC and want it to continue what it's doing.

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"When will you accept that charter renewal should be about making the BBC fit for the future rather than trying to diminish it for the commercial convenience of its competitors?"

Whittingdale denied wanting to "bash" the BBC and said he had held a "good meeting" with the head of the BBC Trust on Tuesday.

He replied: "As for the charter renewal, it is precisely about making the BBC fit for the future and I do intend to try and bring forward the publication as soon as possible.

"But as you know there are a number of very important contributions including the 192,000 consultations which we want to take fully in to account."

He added: "It is not a question of trying to cut back on its output but nevertheless there is a case, which is borne out by some of the responses and other surveys we've conducted, that the BBC needs to be more distinctive, and that's something the director-general himself has said when he set out his own plans for charter renewal."

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