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The BBC's Iran and the West, by acclaimed producer Norma Percy, is a timely reminder of why we pay the licence fee

By Peter Bazalgette   April 2009

Commercial television is suffering a cataclysmic fall in advertising revenues. Yet the BBC receives more from its licence fee than all the revenues of commercial television put together. In the last (mild) advertising downturn in 2002, Mark Thompson was the chief executive of Channel 4 and described the BBC as wallowing in “a jacuzzi of cash.” Now Thompson runs the BBC and the jacuzzi has become a luxuriant Turkish bath. We should look more critically than ever at how the BBC spends its money. But now and again a programme comes along that reminds us why we pay the licence…

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