THE BBC should be producing more home-grown dramas and comedies if it is to justify the continuation of the licence fee, David Cameron has suggested.
With the corporation's Royal Charter due for renewal in 2016, the Prime Minister said he remained a supporter of the TV licence as the means of financing the BBC.
However, he made clear that it needed to maximise its own output and avoid becoming over-reliant on imports like Borgen, The Bridge and The Killing. Instead, Mr Cameron said he wanted to "make sure we produce the hits of the future rather than having to brush up on our Danish".
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"I'm in favour of the licence fee, but I'm in favour of making sure they get good value for money," he said during a question-and-answer session in Birmingham on Heart, Capital and Smooth Radio.
"I often wonder why is it we make something amazing like The Office and we just make eight episodes."
He made the comments in the week the corporation announced it was axing the hit drama Waterloo Road. The broadcaster said it had "reached the end of its life cycle" following 10 series but work was beginning on a new drama for the 8pm slot. BBC1 Controller Charlotte Moore said there were some "really exciting ideas currently in development".
Mr Cameron pointed to American comedies and Danish dramas that were imported into the UK. The range of so-called Nordic Noir programmes, in particular, have become popular viewing, with Scotland's Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon admitting to being an avid fan of Borgen, and meeting the star of the show last year.
However, Mr Cameron said it was important that the BBC maximised its output of homegrown programmes.
"You've got [American sitcom] Modern Family and they're churning out series seven or something," he said. "So, let's try and make sure we produce the hits of the future, rather than having to brush up on our Danish."
A BBC spokesman said: "With global hits like Doctor Who, Sherlock and Call The Midwife, the vast majority of programming on the BBC is home-grown. Imports make up a very, very small percentage of our output."
A recent report has recommended increasing the licence fee in line with inflation and raising the amount of money made through commercial ventures.