BBC's right to license fee threatened

Ofcom might support funds for Channel 4

LONDON -- Ofcom's upcoming review of public service broadcasting could end the BBC's historic right to the whole of the yearly $7 billion TV-owner license fee in favor of sharing some of it with Channel 4, according to a leaked copy of the draft report due in September.

The review, which is likely to shape the future for Britain's biggest broadcasters over the next decade, is also understood to recognize that ITV cannot afford to maintain its public service commitments and will allow it to drop some of its regional responsibilities.

The report  supports Channel 4's call for public funding, according to a copy leaked to the Guardian newspaper, and has poured cold water on the BBC's argument that it should not share the license fee with other pubcasters.

Although the media regulator has confirmed the contents of the leaked draft, it has been at pains to point out that the findings are still provisional.

"No decisions or conclusions on our recommendations to the government have been made -- and won't be made for many months," a spokesman said. "Ofcom expects to publish a second consultation on PSB in September. That document will contain further proposals which will be subject to yet another consultation before any recommendations on the future of PSB are made to the government next year."
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