Nick Ross was famous for telling viewers on Crimewatch not to have nightmares. But BBC bosses will be having evening terrors of their own following his claim that the Corporation needs to abandon the licence fee and stop “killing itself”.
He also questioned whether the existence of BBC1 was even justified.
Speaking at the Edinburgh Television Festival, the presenter who stepped down from anchoring Crimewatch five years ago said that the BBC should stop asking for money from the public and start trying to find ways of funding itself.
“The BBC is killing itself,” he said. “I see the BBC every ten years going to the Government and asking for money and there is a fight and a fight and a fight. The BBC is dependent on politicians [for cash] and it needs to go out and make its own money.
“We can say that the current [funding] model [for the BBC] isn’t broken by at some stage it will be. The BBC will just diminish and diminish.”
He added that if claims that the BBC threatened the Government that it would cut channels and services if it doesn’t get a sufficiently high licence fee settlement in the current charter renewal were true then it was a dangerous game for the BBC to play.
“If I were [culture secretary] John Whittingdale and the BBC said we were scrapping BBC1, I would think that’s quite a good thing. There are quite a lot of commercial operators who could do what BBC1 does.”
Ross was speaking on a panel alongside BBC director of digital and strategy James Purnell and Jon Thoday and Jimmy Mulville, the independent producers who have been seeking to buy BBC3.
The discussion turned heated when Purnell and the duo clashed over the closure of BBC3 with Mulville criticising the BBC man for his voting record when he was an MP: “I notice that you voted in favour of the Iraq War – that worked out well”.