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Last Updated: Sunday, 18 March 2007, 13:06 GMT
BBC 'facing tough choices ahead'
BBC director general Mark Thompson
Mr Thompson says deciding BBC priorities will be hard

The BBC's director general has conceded "tough choices" will have to be made at the corporation because the licence fee settlement was lower than he had hoped.

But, Mark Thompson told Sunday AM the BBC would not drop its commitment to making original programmes.

The government has agreed the licence fee will rise by £4 to £135.50 in April, up to a maximum £151.50 in 2012.

It is well below the rise the BBC had wanted, which would have taken the fee to a maximum of £180 over seven years.

The agreement meant the BBC had failed to convince ministers of its case for an above-inflation increase, which it has often enjoyed in the past.

'Priorities'

"Having a licence fee at the level that's been set means we will have to make some tough choices," said Mr Thompson.

"I don't believe that you're going to see a sudden burst of repeats on BBC1. We know that the public expect outstanding, original programmes on our main television networks."

"On the other hand, we are going to have to make some difficult choices about where to put our priorities," he added.

While Mr Thompson did not say what "tough decisions" the corporation may face, experts suggest it could lead to the BBC cutting back on many of its plans for the future.

Among them is the switch-over from analogue to digital television and the move of many staff and programmes to Salford in Greater Manchester.

A BBC property review has already suggested that Television Centre - the BBC's largest property and home to many shows such as Blue Peter - could close as part of a drive to cut costs.

Unions have warned that the below-inflation deal would hit programmes and lead to "heavy job losses" at the BBC.


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