LONDON — Blighty’s opposition Conservative Party has called in a TV industry veteran to chair an independent review of the future funding of the BBC.
David Elstein, the outspoken former CEO of terrestrial broadcaster Five who also has held senior posts at ITV’s Thames TV and satcaster BSkyB, once predicted subscription fees would replace the pubcaster’s license fee.
The Beeb receives £2.56 billion ($4 billion) in annual funding from TV viewers. It is prepping to renegotiate its charter, which covers funding and expires in 2006.
Conservative culture secretary John Whittingdale wants policy ideas ready for the charter renewal debate. Party leader Ian Duncan Smith believes cutting the license fee could be a vote winner in the next general election.
Other members of the independent review group are due to be announced today.
Meanwhile, BBC director general Greg Dyke is expected to address burning issues including the BBC’s charter when he gives the Richard Dunn Memorial Interview at the Edinburgh Intl. TV Festival in August.
He will review the speech he delivered at the festival in 2000, when he discussed his vision for the pubcaster. He replaced John Birt as director general in February 2000.