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EDITIONS
 Thursday, 16 January, 2003, 08:23 GMT
BBC to undergo government review
Tessa Jowell, Culture Secretary
Ms Jowell said BBC must answer to its audiences
The government is to carry out a major review of programmes prior to the renewal of the BBC's charter in 2006.

The BBC has been told its programmes must justify the licence fee it charges viewers if its charter is to be renewed.

Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell, speaking in Oxford, said the corporation would face a "tough review" of the level of funding it receives and the choice of programming it puts out.

(The BBC) can reward the tremendous investment made by the public with programmes and services of ambition and scope

Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell

Previously Ms Jowell has appeared to secure the future of the licence fee, saying its abolition was "between improbable and impossible".

In her address on Wednesday, Ms Jowell said the BBC would need to show it was extending its range and raising the standards of public broadcasting.

Accountability

Speaking at the Oxford Media Convention, she made it clear that the future funding of the BBC would not be plain sailing.

The corporation, she said "must be able to justify to its audiences that it uses their money, and earns their support, by offering services that extend the range and enhance the standards of what is available to them".

The Government is planning to look at the size, scope and accountability of the BBC and the originality of its programmes, and will also review all its new digital services.

'Proper debate'

Ms Jowell said: "The BBC is at the heart of our broadcasting system.

"It can reward the tremendous investment made by the public with programmes and services of ambition and scope."

In June, Ms Jowell told the Financial Times, the BBC was one of "the most loved and trusted UK institutions" and said the likelihood of being without the licence fee "is anywhere between improbable and impossible".

A BBC spokesperson said: "We think it only right and proper that there should be a big debate about the purpose of the BBC."


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