News Burst: Government to raise TV rates

But £3 increase is far less than the feared 'digital poll tax'

The BBC license fee is to rise by £3 to pay for digital TV, the government announced yesterday.

The move follows rumour-fuelled speculation and a government-commissioned investigation into BBC finances last summer. At the time the panel -- headed by economist Gavyn Davies -- sparked controversy by proposing an extra £24 for digital viewers. Angry commercial broadcasters dubbed the rise a digital poll tax.

Turning his back on the recommendations of the Davies panel, culture secretary Chris Smith has decided to impose a three pence per week increase for both analogue and digital TV licenses. The rise -- 1.5 percent above inflation -- is necessary to keep the BBC as the vanguard of digital services, according to Smith.

More details to follow.

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