Ofcom head urges BBC fee-share


Ed Richards, CEO of U.K. media watchdog Ofcom, said Tuesday that $88 million-$147 million of the BBC's license fee should be used to fund ailing local-news services run by ITV.

His comments come as BBC bosses face increasing pressure to come up with reasons not to share the broadcaster's license fee — an annual income of more than £3.5 billion ($5 billion) — with Britain's hard-hit commercial public-service channels, including Channel 4 and ITV.

During a speech at a Culture Department conference on local media, Richards said the cash would fund an alternative to ITV's regional news beyond 2012, when the commercial broadcaster will be released from its local-news provision requirements. He added that partnership proposals recently put forward by the BBC would not meet the investment needed to supply a regional-news service.

The BBC did not comment directly on Richards' speech, but BBC Trust chairman Michael Lyons is scheduled to give a speech next month about how the BBC will protect its relationship with the license-fee payer. (partialdiff)