Letter: BBC's digital fee

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The Independent Culture
Sir: "Never mind the quality, feel the width" was a BBC catch- phrase - and with respect to digital broadcasting, it still is.

When sports contracts are lost, we are told that higher prices are a fact of life and it would be irresponsible of the BBC to pay what the market demands. No appeal was made for an increase in the licence fee on those grounds.

With digital there is no such inhibition. The BBC's revenue is already enormous, yet it still asks for more, mainly to fund the costs of spreading itself, like an oil slick, into every bay and inlet. At the same time, BBC programme-making facilities and associated staff are hived off into BBC Resources, a subsidiary company which is likely to be privatised.

At a time when every commercial cable and satellite broadcaster recognises it can only build audiences by taking viewers away from the free-to-air channels, how is it that the BBC has failed so lamentably to concentrate on its core services?

Two pre-eminent domestic channels and a global news channel of substance would surely sustain the BBC's reputation and be seen as essential components of every digital package.

The BBC's bath-water is now so murky that Greg Dyke, the new Director General, is unlikely to know for some time what is in it. If the baby is still there, it has certainly stopped waving.

HUGH SHEPPARD

Hook, Hampshire

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