BBC Could Lose Exclusive Right to Taxpayer Funding, Conservative Politician Warns

The chairman of Britain's ruling party cites sexual abuse and severance scandals.

LONDON -- The chairman of Britain's ruling Conservative Party has called on the BBC to ensure dramatic changes in the wake of a series of scandals or risk losing its exclusive right to get an annual license fee from taxpayers.

The fee is a key funding source for the U.K. public broadcaster, but some politicians have warned other broadcasters could also be allowed to tap into this revenue source in the future.

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The call from Grant Shapps, in an interview with The Telegraph, also comes amid some recent suggestions that the BBC's political coverage is biased.

Shapps said the government would consider whether the BBC can keep receiving all the proceeds of the license fee -- $235 (£145.50) a year from households with a television -- after 2016, when it's current charter expires.

The threat comes at a time of mounting concern inside the government, and particularly the Conservatives, over bias in the BBC's news programs.

The BBC's new director-general, Tony Hall, has vowed to rebuild public trust in the broadcaster.

Shapps said the Jimmy Savile and related sexual abuse scandals, as well as disclosures about higher than promised severance packages to executives, had raised questions that had to be answered.