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U.K. hints at BBC cuts

Pubcaster accused of 'extraordinary, outrageous' waste

The U.K.’s new coalition government has signalled that a cut in BBC funding is in the cards.

Accusing the pubcaster of “extraordinary and outrageous” waste, media minister Jeremy Hunt said that he could “absolutely” see a reduction in the license fee that every TV household has to pay, which brings in £3.5 billion ($5.3 billion) into BBC coffers a year.

In an interview with Britain’s Daily Telegraph published Saturday, Hunt said the BBC needed to recognize the “very constrained financial situation” the country is in.

“The BBC should not interpret the fact that we haven’t said anything about the way license fee funds are used as an indication that we are happy about it. We will be having very tough discussions,” he added.

Talks over the license fee are due to start next year between the government and BBC toppers. The U.K. is already planning cuts in public spending of up to 40% as it seeks to reduce a huge deficit in state finances.

Under pressure from the BBC Trust, which was set up to represent the interests of license fee payers, senior BBC execs have already agreed to take pay cuts.

But in the interview Hunt implied that he expects the pubcaster to go still further in slashing salaries and perks for senior managers.

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