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TV & Radio

Coalition 'tried to force BBC to run government adverts'

The director general of the BBC claimed yesterday he had been placed under pressure to broadcast government advertising, threatening the independence of the BBC. Defending his role in the recent negotiation of the licence fee, Mark Thompson said the Coalition Government had proposed the BBC should carry state advertising and confirmed that it was asked to fund the free licence fees of the over-75s.

Speaking to the Voice of the Listener and Viewer conference last night, Mr Thompson added "there was... the suggestion the BBC should take on the responsibility for broadcasting some of the material commissioned and generated by the Central Office of Information, in other words government advertising". He described the proposal as "a fundamental and wholly unacceptable attack on the BBC and one we'd fight tooth and nail".

Mr Thompson also claimed the deal struck with the Government had actually made the organisation larger rather than smaller.