The ongoing saga of topslicing the TV licence fee to help prop up the likes of Channel 4, but at the expense of the BBC, has been a thorn in the side of Ofcom and the government this year.
No-one in power wants to rule out topslicing, but no-one wants to come down heavily on the side of the BBC either. Even David Cameron is only ‘sceptical’ about it now, having previously endorsed the concept.
In spite of all the problems the BBC has been through recently, most recently the Daily Mail-led witch-hunt of Messrs Brand and Ross, many people in the corridors of Westminster don’t believe that it should have its own power diluted.
In this month’s The Word magazine Andy Burnham once again throws his support behind the BBC, saying:
People like to kick lumps out of [the BBC] but I do think we do that at our peril. It’s the backbone of our broadcasting system and, going forward, it should be more important, not less.
Not exactly the most impartial of comments, I’m sure you’d agree. And although he’d hate to confirm, Mr Burnham is clearly not going to be pressing very hard for topslicing, but as Steve Hewlett pointed out in the Guardian a couple of weeks ago, ‘after the next election… it may be a very different situation’.