Governors sceptical about two new BBC channels

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The Independent Online

Plans by the BBC to shake up its television output by adding at least two new channels are likely to meet some resistance from MPs and critics.

Plans by the BBC to shake up its television output by adding at least two new channels are likely to meet some resistance from MPs and critics.

The BBC Board of Governors have inspected plans for an extensive overhaul of the BBC's television channels and have decided that "a lot more work should be done" before they can go ahead, a BBC spokeswoman said yesterday. The plans will come before the governors again in the autumn. They will also be subject to approval by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport.

The proposals include repositioning BBC 1 as a popular and entertainment channel, with more serious programmes on BBC2. A new BBC 3 would concentrate on news and entertainment, with arts, politics and science on a new BBC 4.

The spokeswoman said: "Anything radical would have to be approved by the governors and have the support of the Secretary of State. They would also need to be put forward for public consultation."

Chris Smith, the Secretary of State for Culture, has expressed anger that the BBC had not consulted him over plans to develop the new "genre-based" channels.

The Culture Select Committee at the House of Commons said last week that the BBC could lose the licence fee if it moved too far from its "mixed schedule" channels.

The plans were outlined recently by Mark Thompson, director of television. More details are expected to be revealed by Greg Dyke, the director general, when he gives the MacTaggart lectures at the Edinburgh Television Festival later this month.

A BBC insider said yesterday that Mr Smith was already being "informally" consulted on the new ideas.

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