Page last updated at 14:19 GMT, Saturday, 12 July 2008 15:19 UK

Thompson rejects calls to cut BBC

Mark Thompson
Mark Thompson argued the licence fee was 'good value'

BBC director general Mark Thompson has rebuffed a report which called for the corporation to slim down.

The report by Yes, Minister writer Sir Antony Jay said the licence fee was "spread over too many channels".

It argued the BBC should be cut back to one mainstream TV station, a speech radio service and a news department.

But, writing in the Daily Telegraph, Mr Thompson said: "Britain and its place in the world would be worse if the BBC were rolled back by 50 years."

He asked: "What would British life and culture be like if Sir Antony got his way?

"The Albert Hall in August would be in darkness - there would be no BBC Proms.

"24-hour news would be broadcast by a single provider - Sky.

"BBC local radio would be silent.

"I don't want that, and I doubt many other people do," Mr Thompson argued.

Sir Antony's call to reduce the BBC's services was made in a report, entitled How to Save the BBC, for right-wing think tank the Centre for Policy Studies.

"The only possible approach is zero-based reconstruction," said the former BBC producer.

Last year, the BBC's head of TV, Jana Bennett, rejected calls to close BBC Three in order to solve the corporation's financial problems.

Her comments were endorsed by Sir Michael Lyons, chair of the BBC Trust, who said digital channels BBC Three and Four were safe "for the moment".

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