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The BBC chairman warned British government ministers to cut back on funding, saying the business had made significant savings and that further cuts could have “serious consequences”.
Amid talks the public broadcaster is having with the government over the five-year financial settlement, Richard Sharp has argued that the BBC delivers ‘remarkable’ value for money.
Ministers opposed the BBC’s calls for the license fee to keep pace with inflation, people with knowledge said. Nadine Dorries, who replaced Oliver Dowden as culture secretary on Wednesday, will play a leading role in negotiations for the government.
Sharp made the comments at a Royal Television Society conference in Cambridge, as BBC News confirmed that it had proceeded with the appointment of an editor, despite a slew of impartiality.
Jess Brammar, former deputy editor of Newsnight, becomes executive news editor to oversee the corporation’s news channels. Sir Robbie Gibb, who sits on the board of the BBC, has expressed disapproval of her candidacy.
In a memorandum to the staff announcing the appointment, Fran Unsworth, the outgoing head of the corporation, writes: ‘It is extremely disappointing that anyone should receive public and personal criticism. . . simply to apply for a job at the BBC. ”
She added: ‘BBC News must be impartial and independent. BBC journalists are hired from different backgrounds, but while working at the BBC, they leave personal opinions at the door. ”
The BBC added that Brammar’s appointment was made in ‘fair and open competition’.
Sharp’s comments on funding are the latest sign that the former partner of Goldman Sachs, who became chairman of the BBC earlier this year, is campaigning for a generous settlement with the government.
Prior to his appointment, BBC executives feared that an arch-judge would be installed, hampering talks with the government. BBC Director-General Tim Davie is leading the negotiations on behalf of the corporation.
Sharp said executives at the BBC, who want to save almost £ 1bn by next March, had taken ‘enormous costs’. “The low-hanging fruit has disappeared,” he said. The BBC’s operating and restructuring costs in the 2021-22 financial year are budgeted at around £ 5.5 billion.
The cost to the media industry was more than normal inflation, Sharp said, adding: “There will be serious consequences for a poorly funded BBC.”
The license fee is £ 159 per year and one is required to watch live TV on any channel or BBC programs on iPlayer, the service requested by the corporation.
Sharp, who was previously the boss of Chancellor Rishi Sunak at Goldman Sachs, said the fee is equivalent to 43p per household per day and compares the price favorably with newspapers.
The corporation “played an important role in combating media poverty,” he added. “One of the things I find most remarkable is the price.”
“There needs to be a national tool that provides insight, education, children and other assets at a price that people can afford,” he added. “We can do it because it’s imposed.”
‘I just happen to think it’s a good thing. And then the question is: does the government believe this too? ”
Media Minister John Whittingdale also said during the conference that the government was introducing measures to promote British content on TV.
He said the government would include proposals to require British public service broadcasters – the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 – to produce ‘distinctive UK’ content that would allow people in every corner of the UK to live their lives. the screen can reflect ‘, and it shows the things we are most proud of to the rest of the world ”. Currently they have to broadcast ‘original’ content.
He also said that the government was continuing with legislation to ensure that the content of the British public service broadcasters was ‘traceable’ on smart TVs, set-top boxes, streaming sticks and other platforms.