Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt says BBC is 'crown jewel'

Image caption,
Mr Hunt said media regulator Ofcom faced changes

The new Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt has described the BBC as a "crown jewel" in an interview with The Guardian newspaper.

In his first interview since taking up the post, the Conservative minister said there were some things the BBC could do "differently and better".

Mr Hunt said he would not make a decision on the licence fee until 2011.

But he added the way it was collected might change as more people turned to online content.

Mr Hunt also said he had no plans to get rid of media regulation body Ofcom but has made it clear there will be changes, while acknowledging the body had a "really important role to play".

Broadband boost

He would not be drawn on speculation there would be cuts of at least 20% at Ofcom.

Mr Hunt has complained in the past about the number of managers at the BBC who earn over £100,000 a year, calling for "full transparency".

But he told the Guardian he could not dictate how much the BBC paid certain people.

The frontbencher also spoke to the newspaper about deregulation, saying the UK's current media policy was designed for a "pre-internet era".

He told the Guardian he had not yet had a chance to meet the BBC's director general, Mark Thompson.

In a speech last week, Mr Hunt said that his goal was to provide Britain with the "best superfast broadband network in Europe".

He said that a national superfast network could add £18bn to the GDP and create at least 60,000 new jobs.

In his speech, Mr Hunt also said the government was committed to creating "vibrant local media".

Rules about cross-media ownership will be relaxed to allow local newspapers to own local commercial radio stations and set up local TV stations.

The UK is currently ranked 33rd in the world when it comes to broadband speeds, according to the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development).

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