Ofcom: Prices may go up for TV viewers

As much as $773 mil more per year sought

LONDON -- British TV viewers may have to pay more if they want to maintain television quality, Ofcom chief executive Ed Richards said Thursday.

Announcing the second phase of its review into public service broadcasting, Britain's most powerful media regulator said that to maintain plurality in British broadcasting would require between 330 million pounds ($607 million) and 420 million pounds ($773 million) a year on top of the 3.3 billion pounds ($6.1 billion) a year viewers pay in the form of the BBC license fee.

Richards proposed that about half the extra cash could come either from an increased BBC license fee or from additional government subsidy.

He also proposed the controversial handover of all or part of the BBC's commercial arm BBC Worldwide to Channel 4 as a possible funding solution to Channel 4's estimated 100 million pounds ($184 million) a year funding deficit.

Other possible Channel 4 financing options could include access to BBC airtime for program promotion or an industry levy.

U.K. broadcasters are taking their time to digest the findings of the report, which will now form part of a broader consultation before a recommendation is made to the government.

The BBC Trust did not comment on the mooted BBC Worldwide sale.