Come on in, the water’s lovely!

A lot of coverage of the BBC’s bid to persuade government to increase the BBC’s budget by £5.5bn over seven years from 2007, also here, the proposal would mean a rise in the licence fee from £126.50 to a projected £186.89 in 2013-14 – in the Guardian the figure is reported as £150.50. This follows the cuts announced in December, and an expected 7,000 job cuts over three years, by the new director general, Mark Thompson. Unfortunately, for the BBC, as many have pointed out – including the Chairman of the Commons Media and Sport Select Committee – that’s the same Mark Thompson who, when chief executive of Channel 4 accused the BBC of swimming in a jacuzzi of cash.Interestingly Michael Grade, Chairman of the BBC Board of Governors told the Committee that BBC management had wanted an even higher increase but that the governors had forced the figure down.

There’s expected to be a meeting between Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown and the BBC’s director general Mark Thompson some time next week.. which will probably result in a smaller increase in the licence fee.. but still an increase. Some maintain that the BBC’s a winning combination that is well worth backing for the future.

Hmmm… Meanwhile Steve Hewlett, a former editor of Panorama, also in the Guardian, points out that Government and the BBC both benefit from the increase –

For the government the attraction is obvious – a major policy objective [the switch to digital] achieved at no cost to the hard-pressed chancellor – and if they get away with it they’ll be jolly pleased with themselves. For the BBC it looks like a good deal too. The government has rejected the advice of Ofcom and the Burns committee, who, while supporting the licence fee in principle, variously suggested a shorter term – five years as opposed to 10 – and giving other public-service broadcasters access to the money. Instead a new licence fee for the whole 10 years of the next charter is virtually assured.