LONDON — One of the British pols desperately fighting to become the next Prime Minister has warned the BBC that it needs to scale back the scope of its activities.
The leader of the Conservative Party, David Cameron, who three months ago looked a dead cert to form the next U.K. government, said the corp. needs to “focus on what matters most.”
Traditionally the right-of-center Conservative Party is less well disposed toward the BBC than the Labour Party, which has governed Blighty since 1997.
But Cameron, who once worked as a spin doctor for ITV firm, Carlton Communications, claimed he is the “most pro-BBC Conservative leader there’s ever been.”
His comments, in an interview with the BBC listings magazine, Radio Times, will cause much eye-brow raising in the U.K.
In the past Cameron has hinted that he might cut BBC funding.
But the Conservative topper said he would “never do anything to put the BBC at risk.”
Cameron’s attempt to win the U.K. election, which takes place May 6, has come unstuck due to a surge in support for the Liberal Democrats following the televised leaders’ debates.
Cameron claimed: “I’m probably the most pro-BBC Conservative leader there’s ever been…
“I worked at ITV for seven years and you learn to respect the incredibly important role the BBC plays.”
“Competitors like the BBC because you’re competing up here on quality rather than down here on price.
“I would never do anything to put the BBC at risk.
“Conservatives are as proud of establishing the BBC as Labour are of establishing the National Health Service.”
However, Cameron said the corp. was guilty of “trying to do too many things.”
He added: “There was a moment the BBC had overreached on magazines, websites, (buying) Lonely Planet (travel guides).
“I think they do need to retrench a bit and focus on what matters most.”
Previously Cameron had attacked the BBC claiming it had “lost touch with the values of the people who support it through the licence fee.”
Opinion polls in the U.K. are forecasting the most tightly fought election for decades, with a coalition government the most likely outcome.