Monday, August 16, 1999 Published at 13:31 GMT 14:31 UK
Public debate on BBC funding
Plans for a digital licence fee have provoked hostility
By Media Correspondent Torin Douglas
Viewers and listeners have been invited to air their views on BBC funding following hostile reactions to plans for a "digital licence fee" and privatisation of parts of the corporation.
The government has invited the public - and broadcasting organisations - to air their views on the report on BBC funding by the independent panel, chaired by the economist Gavyn Davies.
He said he hoped there would be "a vigorous debate" and these responses would be taken into account when the government considered the panel's review in November.
The closing date for responses is 1 November.
MPs on the culture, media and sport select committee will also be conducting hearings into the review, and their report will be taken into account before ministers take any decisions.
In particular, the government says it wants to hear:
The immediate reactions to the report, within hours of its publication, were generally hostile. The BBC, while welcoming the panel's endorsement of its 'digital vision', regretted it had not proposed a sufficient increase in the Corporation's funding to carry it out.
And its director general Sir John Birt said the main proposals were "not in the best interests of the licence payer".
Commercial broadcasters attacked the proposed increase in the licence fee, calling it a "digital poll tax".
The head of Carlton TV suggested it might even call into question ITV's support for licence fee. Age Concern also attacked the proposal.
Broadcasting union BECTU accused the Davies Committee of "vandalising the BBC" in its proposals to sell off BBC Resources and 49% of BBC Worldwide - and the pressure group Voice of the Listener and Viewer was equally critical.
Most newspapers also criticised the recommendations.
One exception was the Guardian, which said in a leading article "The Davies report has got most of it right", praising its "cool and laudable grasp of this complex issue".