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BBC's Director General to face MPs

NEWS STORY
27/10/2011

The BBC's Director General, Mark Thompson, is due to face MPs as they investigate the controversial deal which sees the British broadcaster share F1 coverage with Sky from next season.

The Guardian claims that Thompson and the BBC Trust chairman, Lord Patten, are to face the Commons culture, media and sport select committee in December.

In a letter to Don Foster, the Lib Dem culture spokesman, Conservative MP, and chairman of the committee, John Whittingdale, admits concern about the deal following complaints from the public.

"The committee has received a large number of emails and letters on the subject," he writes. "The new licensing agreement for Formula One coverage is a commercial decision for the BBC and Formula One Management. However, the committee will be holding its annual evidence session with the chairman of the BBC Trust and the director general of the BBC in December. It is highly likely that members will wish to explore at that meeting some of the concerns that have been expressed over Formula One."

In September, the Daily Mirror, reported that an investigation was to be launched following a letter to the BBC from Foster. However, contacted by Pitpass, a spokesperson for the Culture, Media and Sport Committee said: "There are no plans for the Committee to investigate this matter.

"We are aware of the report in the Mirror about this issue, but can confirm that they have their facts wrong," they added. "Don Foster is not even on the Culture, Media and Sport Committee. The Committee has a watching brief on the BBC and will be holding its annual evidence session with the corporation in December. However, given the number of areas that the Committee will wish to cover with the BBC, I'm afraid that I cannot guarantee that the specific issue you raise will be covered."

While it appears that there has been a change of heart, fans in Britain shouldn't get too excited. The BBC will insist that the deal with Sky was the best it could do even though most know otherwise. Rather than enter a similar agreement with one of its rival terrestrial broadcasters the BBC entered into a behind the scenes deal with an even bigger enemy, at the very time it was leading the attack on Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation over the phone hacking scandal.

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