July 14, 2015 / 10:59 AM / 2 years ago

BBC squares up to government as it releases annual report

LONDON, July 14 (Reuters) - The BBC hit back on Tuesday at government plans to make the broadcaster shoulder more of its costs and stop chasing viewer ratings by screening expensive popular entertainment shows.

"It is the people's BBC not the politicians'," said Rona Fairhead, chair of governing body the BBC Trust. "We have seen no evidence that the public wants less entertainment on the BBC."

The BBC, the world's largest broadcaster, has long been criticised by government ministers and by its rivals for its dominance of British media.

Its main funding comes from households paying a licence fee, enforced by a system to detect who is watching live television.

Last week the government told the BBC to meet the 650 million pound ($1 billion) cost of free licences for the over-75s, rather than the taxpayer.

Speaking as the broadcaster released its annual report, Fairhead said that springing the change suddenly on the broadcaster fell "well short of what the public had a right to expect."

The government has said it will ask the BBC's competitors to scrutinise the broadcaster's remit and scale ahead of the renegotiation of the corporation's royal charter, which is due for renewal next year.

Later this week, the government will also publish a document pressing the BBC to scrap highly commercial programmes like singing talent show "The Voice," in favour of more public service and educative programmes.

BBC Director general Tony Hall told reporters on Tuesday the future of the BBC "doesn't rest on ideological arguments" and said he believes in a BBC "for everyone." (Reporting by Paul Sandle; ediitng by Stephen Addison)

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