Report: BBC could lose independence

The UK government is contemplating breaking up the BBC and stripping the broadcaster of its independent status, a British newspaper has reported.

    The broadcaster faces uncertain times after Hutton report

    The Sunday Times said government papers prepared by senior civil servants propose to split the BBC into separate regional entities for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

    It has also been proposed that the job of ensuring the BBC's impartiality be taken away from the corporation's board of governors.

    The newspaper report comes as the BBC negotiates an uncertain future in the wake of the Hutton inquiry, which castigated it for misreporting on British pre-war intelligence on Iraq.

    Under fire

    The inquiry by Lord Brian Hutton, following the death of weapons expert David Kelly, concluded last month that the BBC story alleging the government had "sexed up" intelligence to justify the invasion was unfounded.

    According to The Sunday Times, the new plans 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 which are not considered public services and even forcing the corporation to share some of its licence fee revenue with other broadcasters.

    Opinion polls after the Hutton inquiry showed that many people considered its verdict a "whitewash," and that they trusted the BBC far more than they did Prime Minister Tony Blair and his ministers.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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