Burnham: Nets shouldn't rely on new funds

Says government is 'stepping up the pace' on review

LONDON -- Britain's biggest networks will hear from the government how the future landscape of public service television will be funded in January, culture secretary Andy Burnham said Friday, but he warned broadcasters they should not rely on new money from the government to fund their financial woes.

"Obviously we are going through economic turbulence and more money is as difficult for the government (to find) as it is for industry," he said. "It would disappoint me if the response that the industry came to would be, 'We need more money.' "

Delivering a keynote at the Royal Television Society annual conference at London's Barbican center, Burnham said the government would accelerate its review.

"I think it is right that we should be stepping up the pace. ... That is why the government and Ofcom will be working on a twin track approach, looking at policy options and practicalities upon which I need to decide," the secretary of state said.

Speaking at the conference a day after media regulator Ofcom outlined a series of potential funding proposals to assist Channel 4, BBC director general Mark Thompson queried the proposal to hand over the BBC's commercial arm BBC Worldwide to Channel 4.

"BBC Worldwide is about BBC-branded channels, programs and brands so I don't quite see the prospect would work. Worldwide's model comes from its proximity to the BBC brand. But WW could play a bigger role with other PSBs, and the progress we are making is surprising."