Last Update: Sunday, February 15, 2004. 9:48am (AEDT)
British Govt considers splitting up BBC: report
The British Government is considering a plan to break up the British Broadcasting Corporation, according to a report in the Sunday Times newspaper.
The report says the Government may remove the BBC's independent status in the wake of a bitter row with the state-funded broadcaster over the Iraq war.
The Sunday Times says Government papers detailing possible changes to the BBC's structure propose breaking it into separate regional entities for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The documents, which the newspaper said had been drawn up by "senior civil servants", also suggested that the job of ensuring the BBC's impartiality could be taken away from the corporation's board of governors.
The BBC, which is independently run despite being financed by public money through a compulsory television licence, is currently facing perhaps the worst breakdown in relations with the government in its 82-year history.
The dispute came after a BBC radio report alleged in May last year that Prime Minister Tony Blair's Government deliberately exaggerated the threat posed by Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction in a pre-war dossier.
Government weapons expert Dr David Kelly was later identified as the anonymous source of the charge.
Dr Kelly killed himself soon afterwards.
An inquiry into Dr Kelly's death, led by judge Lord Brian Hutton, concluded last month that the BBC's story had been "unfounded".
The verdict forced the corporation to apologise and the corporation's chairman and director general resigned.
The newspaper reports that the new proposals for the BBC will bring accusations that "the Government is gearing up to exploit the fall-out from the Hutton inquiry".
Plans being considered include giving a government media watchdog greater control over the BBC's output, closing BBC outlets that are not considered "public service" and even forcing the corporation to share some of its licence fee revenue with other broadcasters.
Such a move would most likely prompt public concern, given that the BBC is still generally revered in Britain for being impartial and accurate.
Opinion polls after the Hutton report showed that many people considered its verdict a "whitewash", and that they trusted the BBC far more than they did Mr Blair and his ministers.
Feb 15, '04
What a sad day that would be if the BBC was dismantled in such a way. It is my understanding that the BBC is revered as being impartial and accurate in providing the news. Not without its faults I'm sure. Overall, though, it's highly reputable and dependable.
Maybe I'm wrong. Can anyone else shed some light about this?
Last edit by Ted on Feb 15, '04