BBC could lose $163 mil of license fee

Digital Britain report to recommend sharing funds with ITV

LONDON -- The BBC could be forced to hand £100 million ($163 million) of the license fee to fund local news on ITV under proposals that will be put forward by a major government report to be published Tuesday.

Billed as the biggest shake up in broadcasting in a generation, the Digital Britain report from Communications Minister Stephen Carter is thought likely to anger the BBC with plans to "top-slice" the license fee, which until now the BBC has never shared with another broadcaster.

The money is cash left over from a fund that was set up to pay for digital switchover awareness.

But BBC Trust chair Michael Lyons has argued that the money should be returned to BBC license fee payers.

In a speech last month to the Royal Television Society he said license fee money should only be used by the BBC.

"License fee payers give us their money in good faith. To suddenly tell them their money is being siphoned off would be more than an act of bad faith, it would be tantamount to breaking a contract," he said.

The report is also expected to greenlight a potential tie-up between Channel 4 and the BBC's commercial arm, BBC Worldwide, as well as outline government plans to combat copyright piracy and illegal downloading.
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