U.K. may cut BBC's license fee

July 17, 2010 at 2:37 PM
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LONDON, July 17 (UPI) -- The U.K. government plans to audit the BBC and possibly cut the license fee viewers pay to counter the broadcaster's "extraordinary and outrageous" waste.

U.K. Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt told The Daily Telegraph Saturday that the BBC must change "huge numbers" of its operations, hinting that the government could force the BCC to publish the salaries of top executives.

"One of the biggest issues with the BBC is there seem to be a steady flow of stories where the way that license fee payers funds are used is not appropriate," Hunt said. "Their policy on executive remuneration is the biggest. It is absolutely essential that the (National Audit Office) has access."

In its annual report earlier this month, the BBC revealed an increase in staff and overall pay, including 85 senior managers earning more than Prime Minister David Cameron's salary of $220,000. The company recently announced measures to cut top salaries by 25 percent and close its pension plan to new members, but it doesn't seem to be enough to take the heat off.

"The BBC should not interpret the fact that we haven't said anything about the way license fee payers funds are used as an indication that we are happy about it. We will be having very tough discussions," Hunt said, adding he could "absolutely" see viewers paying less after the next round of negotiations.

"There's a moment when elected politicians have an opportunity to influence the BBC and it happens every five years. It is when the license fee is renewed."

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