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Labour’s Chris Bryant claims Downing Street was ‘briefing’ on ‘war’ with BBC over Whittingdale appointment

By William Turvill and Press Association

Reports suggesting the new Conservative Government is seeking to go to "war" with the BBC has been put down to "over-excitement" by Business Secretary Sajid Javid (pictured, right: Reuters).

Yesterday, Javid moved to his current role after just over a year as Culture Secretary. He was replaced by John Whittingdale (pictured, left: Reuters), who has been critical of various aspects of the BBC in the past in his role as chair of the Commons committee on culture, media and sport.

This led to several newspapers leading on the appointment this morning, reporting "fears" for the corporation's future.

And while Javid has dismissed the suggestion that Whittingdale's appointment puts the BBC under threat, shadow culture secretary Chris Bryant – who took up his role yesterday – suggested the Government was "briefing" yesterday that the Whittingdale appointment signalled "war".

Javid, when asked about reports saying the Government will "go to war with the BBC", told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "No, not at all.

"There's a bit of over-excitement in those headlines."

He added: "I think it's time to have the charter review.

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"Now it's a process that will take place over a number of months and it should be driven by the evidence.

"When it comes to long-term funding of the BBC, clearly there have been lots of changes in the broadcasting environment, not least technology changes, and I think it's sensible to look at that to make sure the BBC is on a sustainable long-term funding arrangement and I know John is just the right person for that job."

Speaking on the Daily Politics programme later, Labour's Bryant said: "I worry about John only in the sense that what happened yesterday was that there was quite a lot of briefing from Downing Street about his appointment which seemed to suggest that this was a war on the BBC.

"And he has said that he doesn't think that the BBC should do entertainment programmes, like Strictly, which is pretty much the Farage position as well."

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