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Writing in the Guardian over the weekend, media analyst Peter Preston put forward the idea of a licence fee for high-speed internet services, similar to the payment made by TV viewers.

According to Mr Preston, the move could help rescue newspapers which have been hit by reduced revenues from online avenues compared to the now-ailing print market.

It would also be possible to allocate some of the fee money for the progression of next-generation services, he said.

"The providers take a share for collection and for investing in super-fast broadband," Mr Preston explained.

"Then the £500m or more that's left goes to help pay for the most threatened public service: the news."

BT and Virgin Media have so far led the way in next-generation broadband, rolling out services for thousands of subscribers across the country.

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