BBC chief hints that a channel may be axed

THE BBC could axe parts of its sports coverage and a digital channel, it was reported yesterday.

The network's new chairman, Lord Patten, signalled the cuts could materialise, but said he would fight to save the World Service.

Lord Patten of Barnes, Britain's last governor of Hong Kong, said the BBC would not be the same once network changes are introduced later this year as part of a 20 per cent budget loss.

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The former Conservative Party chairman said the Arabic, Somali and Hindi World Service networks are "at the core of what the BBC is doing" and he will urge Foreign Secretary William Hague to protect the World Service.

Lord Patten ruled out publishing individual stars' salaries.

He also said more cuts to pay for executives would be unveiled; promised to "police" the watershed rigorously; and signalled that digital TV channels BBC3 or BBC4 could be axed and one of the main sports events lost.