BBC charities are set to lose money

The BBC's three affiliated charities - Children in Need, Comic Relief and Sport Relief - are likely to lose money after the broadcaster announced that the cost of calls to its programmes will be capped at 15p.

The move is designed to restore confidence in televised competitions after details emerged about a series of rigged contests. Although direct appeals by Children in Need, Comic Relief and Sport Relief have been exempted from the new policy, programmes such as Strictly Come Dancing, which make donations to these three BBC charities from call charges, will be affected.

Mark Thompson, director-general of the BBC, said: "I do understand this will mean that slightly less money will go to the charities as a result of the new policy, but we're already talking to them about other ways of supporting their work."

A BBC spokesman said that raising money for charity through premium-rate phone calls had been only "an incidental and occasional activity" on BBC programmes. "Our main concern is clarity for viewers," he added.

But Lindsay Boswell, chief executive of the Institute of Fundraising, said the BBC should have looked for an alternative. He said: "I don't believe it would have been too difficult to come up with a simple formula that allowed the BBC's supported charities to benefit by a standard contribution wherever and whenever the public called a competition, whether it was Goal of the Month on Match of the Day, Strictly Come Dancing or naming an animal on Blue Peter."

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