Daniel Craig, Judi Dench urge UK government to back BBC

LONDON (AP) — Stars including Daniel Craig and Judi Dench are urging the British government to protect the BBC, as the publicly funded broadcaster faces budget cuts and political pressure for its ambitions to be curbed.

"Harry Potter" author J.K. Rowling and naturalist David Attenborough also signed Wednesday's letter to Prime Minister David Cameron, calling the BBC "a creative force for good" and "the envy of the world."

The BBC is funded largely through a 145 pound ($227) annual fee from TV-owning households, but has agreed to pay for free TV licenses for people over 75.

It also faces renegotiating the terms of its governing charter with what some consider a hostile government.

Some in Cameron's Conservative Party think the BBC should focus on "public service" broadcasting and stop making big-budget entertainment shows.