The BBC this week staked its claim for an increase in funding.

The publicly-funded broadcaster wants its annual licence fee - levied on every TV owning household in the UK - to rise by 2.3% above inflation, so as to boost its digital services and output.

Under the plan, which would run from 2007 to 2013, the current fee of £126.50 ($222; €183) could ultimately rise to nearly £170 per TV household by 2013. The fee currently generates around £2.94 billion for the broadcaster.

Says BBC director general Mark Thompson: "The licence fee will help us achieve our vision to be the best creative digital broadcaster and content provider for audiences in the world."

The broadcaster will be expected to bankroll the analogue-digital switchover, scheduled to be completed by 2012.

The corporation's proposal is the opening gambit in the process of negotiation with the Blair administration, the ultimate arbiter of the fee.

It is believed Culture, Media and Sport secretary Tessa Jowell will order an external appraisal of the BBC's submission by outside experts rather than government staff. It will also be scrutinised by a committee of Members of Parliament.

Jowell says the licence fee system is "not perfect" but remains the fairest way to fund the BBC.

Data sourced from Data sourced from BBC Online and; additional content by WARC staff