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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 January, 2004, 17:44 GMT
Arts host says BBC should share
Lord Bragg
Lord Bragg hosts ITV's The South Bank Show
Melvyn Bragg has said the BBC should share its licence fee with other broadcasters as television audiences fragment through digital services.

He said it no longer made sense for the corporation to keep all of the licence fee money.

Lord Bragg, who presents ITV1's South Bank Show, made the comment as the BBC's charter comes up for renewal.

The BBC said any plans to divert funds from the licence would be discussed as part of the charter renewal process.

Lord Bragg, who is also head of arts and features at Granada, said the ITV network was having to face extra competition in the commercial sector because of the growth of digital TV, but was still having to keep to its public service responsibilities.

He said one way to protect ITV was to "question the whole purpose of the licence fee for public dervice broadcasting".

"In brief, should it go totally to one organisation alone - the BBC - or should it go to public service programmes across the spectrum?" he said.


He added that the BBC was no "longer an exclusive church".

Lord Bragg said he admired much of the content on the arts-driven BBC Four but said it was in danger of becoming "tokenistic" while much of the BBC's output was becoming more mainstream.

"Everybody who produces programmes in radio and television knows that the easiest thing, and the most comfortable thing and the way to get plaudits, is to do not broadcasting but narrow casting," he said.

A BBC spokesman said: "Debates about the role and the funding of the BBC, including the pros and cons of giving money to other broadcasters, will feature in the consultations about renewal of the charter."

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