Page last updated at 16:39 GMT, Friday, 4 July 2008 17:39 UK

Slim down BBC, Minister man says

Derek Fowlds, Paul Eddington and Nigel Hawthorne in Yes, Minister
Sir Antony co-wrote the popular 1980s sitcom with Jonathan Lynn

The BBC must be slimmed down and its digital channels should "make their excuses and leave", the co-writer of classic comedy Yes, Minister has said.

Sir Antony Jay said the licence fee was being used to make "undistinguished" shows in a report for think tank the Centre for Policy Studies.

He said the BBC should be stripped down to one mainstream TV channel, a radio speech channel and a news department.

Last year the BBC Trust rejected calls to axe digital channels to save money.

Sir Antony, who created the popular 1980s political sitcom with Jonathan Lynn, said the BBC's resources were "spread over too many channels."

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

Favourite

Yes, Minister, in which Paul Eddington's dithering minister did regular battle with Sir Nigel Hawthorne's wily civil servant, was a favourite of former prime minister Margaret Thatcher.

The Centre for Policy Studies was co-founded by Mrs Thatcher in 1974 to "promote the principles of a free society" and "promote policies to limit the role of the state."

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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