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David Puttnam

Puttnam says he would have resigned over licence fee deal

Puttnam says he would have resigned over licence fee deal

03 December, 2015

Puttnam says he would have resigned over licence fee deal

Labour peer and film-maker criticises BBC Trust chair Rona Fairhead for accepting burden of paying for over 75’s licences

Labour peer and film-maker Lord Puttnam has criticised BBC Trust chair Rona Fairhead’s handling of the BBC’s licence fee deal, saying he would have resigned if put in the same position.

Puttnam, who was previously deputy chair of Channel 4, said the deal which saw the BBC accept the £700m burden of paying for over 75’s licence fees in July was a “dereliction of process”.

“I think the way it was done was shocking and I also know that unless the government realise that there is a point at which you will resign, they will push and push and push,” Puttnam said on Radio 4’s The Media Show. “I would sincerely like to think I would have resigned – I believe I would have done – but everyone’s got to make their own judgment.”

Fairhead and other members of the trust have been criticised for accepting the deal rather than threatening to resign en masse, as members of the trust had in 2010 when faced with a similar offer by the government. 

Melvyn Bragg, who is part of a review led by Puttnam into the state of UK public service broadcasting, last month accused Fairhead of an “appalling dereliction of duty” over the deal.

Fairhead has said that she felt it necessary to follow the advice of the BBC executive to accept the deal, and continue to fight for the BBC through the renewal of the BBC charter, which expires at the end of 2015.

Puttnam also said the government’s green paper laying out questions about the future of the BBC could “accidentally” lead to parts of the corporation valued by the public being lost.

He said: “It is a slippery slope isn’t it. [It is important that] you don’t accidentally think this is an interesting marketisation process and three years later everything you valued has somehow slithered down the plughole because the market operates the way the market does. 

“What I am saying is, accidents happen. If you pursue any form of ideological, not so much vendetta, just ideological desire for change for change’s sake ... the slippery slope is always there to catch you.”

He added that the tone of the green paper, which includes questions about whether it should continue trying to provide something for everyone, was deliberately “hostile”.

He said: “I know how good civil servants are at drafting things. If you publish a green paper like that, someone’s decided on that tone – that’s not an accident.”

Written by Jasper Jackson 

Source- The Guardian  

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