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Attenborough calls for change at BBC

Veteran U.K. documaker defends license fee

David Attenborough, the natural history broadcaster whose name has been synonymous with the BBC for half a century, has accused it of being “unfocused.”

Attenborough, who recently appeared on BSkyB presenting a 3D film about prehistoric birds, “Flying Monsters,” told the left-wing British weekly magazine, New Statesman, that greater efficiencies were required at the U.K. pubcaster.

He said: “I think the BBC has strayed from the straight and narrow on a number of courses at the moment. The sails need to be trimmed and (it) needs to be refocused.”

However, Attenborough, whose BBC series including “Planet Earth” have been huge global sellers for the pubcaster, said continuing to fund the org with a license fee paid by all U.K. homes that watch TV was essential. “(The BBC) is crucially important in our society and (represents) the highest aspirations of our society. I’m appalled anybody thinks otherwise,” said the 84-year-old documentary maker. “If you remove the license fee, (the BBC) would be gone in a decade, finished.”

Some commentators were surprised that Attenborough, a one-time BBC topper who began his career there in 1952, last year agreed to work for arch-rival BSkyB.

But the opportunity to present and write a 3D doc was one that Attenborough seized, despite describing himself as “a BBC man through and through.”

He is making a second 3D doc for BSkyB, this time focusing on Emperor Penguins and, in common with “Flying Monsters,” produced by Atlantic.