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ThE MaStEr

BBC Trust to quiz Thompson on Sky letter


Tuesday, October 19 2010


Mark ThompsonBroadcastingThe BBC Trust has confirmed that it will quiz the BBC's director general Mark Thompson on his decision to sign a protest letter against News Corporation's proposed takeover of Sky.

Last week, Thompson joined Channel 4 chief executive David Abraham and BT boss Ian Livingstone in signing a petition submitted to business secretary Vince Cable urging him to intervene in News Corp's £8bn bid to take full control of the pay-TV operator.

The move followed Thompson's recent comments on US television about the potential risk to media plurality in Britain if the deal goes through.

The Trust is understood to be privately concerned about the BBC being so publicly connected to the protest letter, which Thompson signed without first consulting the governing body, reports The Guardian.

Speaking at the Radio Festival today in Salford, the BBC trustee David Liddiment said: "I think we will certainly be discussing it with the director general, yes. We haven't had that discussion yet. We will certainly be discussing it with him."

Also today, the Trust warned the coalition government over rumoured plans to force the BBC to meet the £556m cost of providing free television licences to anyone over 75.

In a statement, the organisation said that it "would be unacceptable for licence fee payers to pick up a bill for what is a universal benefit".

Liddiment declined to comment on separate speculation that the BBC has offered to take on funding of the BBC World Service to avoid picking up the licence fee bill.

"I don't think it's timely for me to make any comments on what is going on," said Liddiment.

"I think all kinds of conversations are taking place in London. We will learn more tomorrow when the comprehensive spending review is announced."

He added: "The Trust has made clear its position on the idea that the BBC licence fee should be used for free licences for the over-75s


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