HC Deb 18 December 1995 vol 268 cc852-3W
Mr. O'Hara

To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage if she will make a statement on the future funding of the BBC. [4660]

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley

As set out in the White Paper, "The Future of the BBC", the Government are committed to the continuation of the licence fee for at least the first five years of the new charter.

Mr. Austin Mitchell

To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage what plans she has to extend the private finance initiative to(a) the BBC, (b) BBC Worldwide and (c) BBC World Service. [5396]

Mr. Sproat

We have encouraged the BBC to use to the full the opportunities available under the private finance initiative to meet its needs for capital investment. In relation to the home services, the BBC is examining a number of private finance options and it is for the corporation to determine where the PFI offers the most benefit in relation to individual projects which would otherwise be funded from the licence fee. The BBC World Service is funded by grant in aid from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and is therefore expected to explore the scope for private finance in relation to all capital investment decisions. The rest of BBC Worldwide embraces the BBC's commercial activities, which are not publicly funded; it operates to maximise the benefits of the BBC brand and is structured according to the principles of the PFI.

Mr. Mitchell

To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage what plans she has to impose conditions on the BBC as to the way it can use the money accruing from the privatisation of the transmitter facilities. [5387]

Mr. Sproat

The basis of the sale, which my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State announced on 27 November,Official Report, column 439, has been agreed by us and the BBC. This provides that the BBC retains the proceeds of the sale related to licence fee funded transmission facilities; the BBC has said that it will invest the proceeds of the sale within the BBC on digital production technology. We have no plans at present to impose any conditions on the BBC in respect of the proceeds it will receive from the privatisation of its transmission services.

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