Media: Licence warning to BBC

THE BBC could lose its "special privilege" of charging a licence fee if it continued the "slaughtering" of political coverage and its contempt for Parliament, MPs warned yesterday.

Paul Tyler, the Liberal Democrat chief whip, said during a short Commons debate that plans to change the structure of BBC regional reporting would lead to "the detriment of regional coverage of Parliament. If the BBC doesn't take Parliament seriously, why should we support the continuation of the licence fee?" Mr Tyler said.

He also condemned the switching of Radio 4's Today In Parliament and Yesterday in Parliament from FM to long wave. Audience figures were due out this week and Mr Tyler called for the resignation of James Boyle, the head of Radio 4, if the changes had been "as disastrous as widely forecast". He added: "This war of attrition in the BBC and its coverage of our affairs must end if the corporation is to continue to enjoy special privileges."