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Tories pledge to open up BBC's accounts

By
David Cameron

© Rex Features

The Conservatives have pledged to give the National Audit Office (NAO) "full access" to the BBC's accounts to reveal how the corporation spends its £3.4 billion annual licence fee.

Published yesterday, the party's election manifesto reiterates its desire to scrap the BBC Trust and reduce the powers of media regulator Ofcom.

Under Tory plans, the BBC will be audited by the NAO after it recently faced criticism over excessive expenditure on building projects, top talent and events coverage.

The Conservatives also want to completely scrap Labour's proposed 50p monthly levy on all UK landlines to fund superfast broadband rollout. The measure was recently dropped from a financial bill in the 'wash-up' period before parliament was dissolved.

"We will scrap Labour's phone tax and instead require BT and other infrastructure providers to allow the use of their assets to deliver superfast broadband across the country," said the party.

"If necessary, we will consider using the part of the licence fee that is supporting the digital switchover to fund broadband in areas that the market alone will not reach".

Also in the manifesto, the Tories pledged to ditch Labour's plan to replace ITV's regional news services with an independently funded news consortium (IFNC) scheme.

After ensuring that the IFNC measure failed to pass through parliament in the digital economy bill, the Tories now want to push forward a relaxation of cross-media ownership laws as an alternative approach.

"Our plans to decentralise power will only work properly if there is a strong, independent and vibrant local media to hold local authorities to account," said the party.

"We will sweep away the rules that stop local newspapers owning other local media platforms and create a new network of local television stations."

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