Chrysalis chief hits out at radio licence fee ‘abuse’

Chrysalis Group chairman Chris Wright has hit out at BBC director-general Mark Thompson, saying that his claim that that BBC Radio is “exogenous” to commercial is nonsense.

Chrysalis Group chairman Chris Wright has hit out at BBC director-general Mark Thompson, saying that his claim that that BBC Radio is “exogenous” to commercial is nonsense.

In a letter to Prime Minister Tony Blair and Secretary of Culture, Media and Sport Tessa Jowell, Wright also calls for a cap on the licence fee at the present level and on the proportion that can be spent on BBC radio.

Wright’s letter follows comments made by Thompson at the Broadcast Press Guild last week. Thompson said that three independent reports into the effect of the BBC on commercial businesses have led to “no documented evidence of crowding out of commercial activity”.

Media companies should look at their own investment and business models before blaming the BBC, he added.

Wright, whose business includes the Heart, LBC and Galaxy radio brands, does not believe there has been a proper debate on the role of a public service broadcaster.

He says/ “The BBC’s role should be to make programmes that are in competition with commercial broadcasters but compatible with them.”

Wright also says that the licence fee should be used for programmes that commercial broadcasters cannot make.

He adds: “When I see how difficult it is for commercial broadcasters to compete, I am not surprised that the BBC is pulling ahead.

“The commercial broadcasters are fighting with one hand tied behind their backs.”

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