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Last Updated: Friday, 16 June 2006, 17:02 GMT 18:02 UK
Peer criticises Ross '18m' deal
Jonathan Ross
The BBC identified a temporary worker as having leaked salaries
Former Cabinet minister Lord Fowler has criticised Jonathan Ross's reported 18m three-year BBC contract.

Lord Fowler said such a deal was "in danger of creating its own inflation, not only in the BBC but in the television area generally".

He said there was "inadequate scrutiny by Parliament" of the BBC, and the government had "too much unchecked power" on the charter and licence fee.

The BBC would not confirm what Ross is to be paid.

Lord Fowler said it went "against the grain" compared with the estimated 6m cost of upping the World Service's Middle East service from 12 to 24 hours.

He was speaking in a House of Lords debate about the BBC's new licence, Royal charter and agreement.

'Reconnect'

The peer headed the BBC Charter Review Committee that criticised the corporation's proposal to up the licence fee by inflation plus 2.3% for the next seven years.

The government also opposed the plan, which it was estimated could see the licence fee reach 180.

"We are talking of a cost of 3bn a year now, rising to a cost of 4bn a year, and Parliament - particularly the House of Commons - has every right to think it is the guardian of the licence fee payer's interest," Lord Fowler said on Friday.

Lord Davies of Oldham, for ministers, said the new arrangements had to ensure the BBC kept pace with new technology, served licence fee payers and "reconnected" with the public.

"The success of the new arrangements will be determined by consensus, not only amongst the licence fee payers but also amongst the industry, that the BBC is indeed helping make the UK environment one where both it and commercial broadcasters can flourish," he said.

"We believe the charter and agreement provides a framework for the BBC to deliver that outcome."




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