Rogers defends ITC licence proposals

Peter Rogers, chief executive of the ITC, said at the weekend, that the annual pounds 400m tax paid to the Government by the ITV companies "will fall somewhat", and that programme budgets would be taken into account in deciding licence fees.

Mr Rogers was speaking at the bi-annual Royal Television Society Convention in Cambridge, as ITV companies considered the ITC's proposals for licence renewal. He was responding to charges from Melvyn Bragg, controller of arts at LWT, that ITV's levy should be reduced or shared.

Mr Bragg argued that, since ITV companies bid for their licences, the network's advertising income had been eroded by the explosion in the number of channels. He said that whereas the BBC still had a monopoly over public money, ITV no longer had a monopoly over advertising money. Programme quality would suffer as a result, he said, and suggested that ITV should "get a slice of the BBC's licence fee".

Although Mr Rogers appeared sympathetic to parts of Mr Bragg's argument, he said tales of ITV's financial difficulties remained unconvincing as ITV companies "paid very large sums to buy each other".