BBC chief hits out at 'political interference'

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The Independent Online

The BBC director general, Mark Thompson, has hit back at the Culture Secretary Ben Bradshaw's calls to scrap the BBC Trust, the corporation's governing body, describing it as "frankly puzzling" political interference.

Speaking at the Royal Television Society's annual convention in Cambridge, Mr Thompson attacked the speech delivered earlier this week, highlighting that the Trust was assembled by the same Labour government that Mr Thompson now serves, and that most of the BBC's new services such as BBC iPlayer "were approved by the Government of which Ben is a member".

Hitting back at Mr Bradshaw's questioning of the Trust as both "cheerleader" and regulator, Mr Thompson said: "The people Ben should ask this question of is those colleagues of his in the present Cabinet who invented the BBC Trust."

Mr Thompson also ridiculed James Murdoch's suggestion, made in his MacTaggart address last month, that the BBC was authoritarian. "In James's universe the Hutton crisis could never have happened – no scandal, no crisis, no inquiry, no resignations," he said. "Indeed, in public you'd never be able to slip a cigarette paper between the BBC and the Secretary of State. Yeah right."

Separately, Eric Schmidt, Google's chairman and chief executive, told the conference that calls to charge for journalism on the internet were unlikely to work for news generally.