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BBC chief to take on critics at Edinburgh International Television Festival

Mark Thompson to conduct lecture in defense of the Beeb at the annual James MacTaggart lecture

BBC director-general Mark Thompson plans to tackle critics with a lecture defending the corporation, at the Edinburgh International Television Festival on Friday night.

In an email to employees, Thompson said he will offer a "robust" defence of the BBC at the annual James MacTaggart lecture, against criticism from the corporation's commercial rivals and politicians.

The BBC has been under immense political pressure lately over its spending and inflated staff salaries at a time when the public sector is following austerity measures.

Thompson is planning to use the opportunity to respond to James Murdoch's onslaught against the BBC. Murdoch in his MacTaggart speech last year had labelled the corporation's scale and scope as "chilling".

The director-general is likely to highlight some of the BBC's successes and stress that the corporation remains hugely popular with the public despite several criticisms. He may also point to his recent strategy review, which promised cutbacks and pay cuts to its top executives.

Media analysts view the MacTaggart speech as critical to the BBC's future.