BBC Veteran Calls on U.K. Broadcaster to Merge Channels

David Dimbleby

News and current affairs host David Dimbleby is the latest to voice concerns that the British public broadcaster has become "too powerful for its own good."

LONDON – Veteran broadcaster and BBC stalwart David Dimbleby thinks his paymaster needs to "pull back a bit" and merge two of its television channels.

Dimbleby, who hosts the influential BBC politics panel discussion show Question Time and is a go-to commentator for big British events such as the Queen's jubilee celebrations, voiced concerns that the public broadcaster might have become too big for its boots.

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Talking on Richard Bacon's BBC Radio 5 Live radio show, Dimbleby mused that the BBC needs to redefine its role and examine "whether it is too powerful for its own good."

Said Dimbleby: "I do think the BBC needs to pull back a bit from some of the things it does, maybe cut back a bit on its number of television channels."

He said programs on BBC4 were being made "on a shoestring" and the channel should be merged with BBC2.

The presenter and broadcasting vet, who recently hit the British media headlines by getting a scorpion tattoo on his shoulder at the ripe old age of 75 said: "Cut out some of the gardening and cookery and all that on BBC2, and turn it back into a quality thing it was meant to be and then you have two big channels, one and two."

Dimbleby's views follow former BBC Olympic 2012 tsar and one-time BBC television news chief Roger Mosey's comments that the BBC should get a smaller slice of the license fee to promote competition and give the public wider choice.

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Mosey, who left the corporation earlier this year to take up the position of master of Selwyn College, Cambridge, joined in the debate around how the BBC's next license fee settlement could help promote "pluralism" and "diversity."

Penning a column in the London Times, published by News U.K., a division of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, Mosey said that if more bids from commercial organizations were open to funding from the license fee, it might "enrich the nation."

Mosey said the corporation faced widespread competition in network television, but its market share of 70 percent of all news consumption on both TV and radio was something that "even long-term loyalists find uncomfortable."

Dimbleby and Mosey's opinions come hot on the heels of the launch of a public review of its four main channels.