Tories' BBC funding group hit by member's departure

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The Independent Online

The taskforce set up by the Conservative Party to come up with new ways of funding the BBC has been hit by the departure of a member who was seen as most sympathetic to the corporation.

Peter Ibbotson, a former editor of Panorama and ex-deputy director of programmes at the BBC, has asked for his name not to be put on the report, which is due to be published next month.

The news led to speculation that the team writing the report, led by the former chief executive of Channel 5 David Elstein, is to recommend a radically pro-market funding formula. It is thought that the study will recommend the BBC be funded by subscription. It is understood that while Mr Ibbotson, who is now a consultant to Channel 4, supported a subscription mechanism he did so provided it covered the BBC's entire output and not just popular programming.

Mr Ibbotson, speaking from a skiing holiday in the Alps, said: "I want a not-for-profit subscription model, so that subscription is not just a stepping stone to privatisation."

The corporation's charter comes up for renewal in 2006.