Letter: Battle for the BBC

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Sir: Rob Brown is right about the battle "for the hearts and minds" of the British viewing public as the digital TV revolution develops (Media, 17 November). The BBC will maintain the loyalty of viewers as long as it shows the better-quality, home-made, peak-time programmes it is renowned for.

Readers may care to reflect upon the European Parliament's work in ensuring that the BBC has the means to fight this battle without constraint. The TV Without Frontiers directive insists that broadcasters ensure that 51 per cent of output is of EU origin and of high quality. If this directive is properly implemented, then the BBC will not be forced to "dumb down" and show cheap imported programmes to compete with new channels.

These channels should be obliged to comply quickly in the UK (the directive allows new channels three years to reach 51 per cent). Children's TV illustrates what is at stake for our culture. This month, the Broadcasting Standards Commission voiced alarm at the predominance of low-quality imported cartoons on cable and satellite channels and the impact that this is having on terrestrial stations. This directive offers a solution to this problem.

In addition, following the European Parliament's adoption of my report on the future of Public Service Broadcasters (PSBs), the Amsterdam treaty contains a protocol that protects PSBs from legal attack relating to "unfair" state aid.

The BBC has nothing to fear, and it has no excuses for any decline in standards.

Carole Tongue MEP

(London E, Lab)

Ilford, Essex

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