John Humphrys, the influential host of the BBC's Today programme, has condemned wholesale cuts to the corporation's output.

In an interview with the Independent, the 64-year-old criticised the BBC for its "salami slicing" budget cuts.

Amid rumours an axe is hanging over Radio 4's Today, he said it was "utterly ludicrous" that the programme should face the same budget cuts in front of other programmes.

"There's no organisation anywhere in the world that doesn't say, 'There are some things we do that are more important than others, and those things we will not cut'," he said.

"We should take the view that the Today programme is so important and has already been cut to such an extent that any more cuts will damage it."

The veteran broadcaster, who has presented Today for the last 20 years, said that in terms of "its impact and its influence on the national debate, the trust in which it is held by its huge audience, the Today programme is easily the most important programme that the BBC does".

Humphrys also laid into the corporation for its broad range of digital and new media output.

"In the ideal world where you have an unlimited amount of money, you can have as many channels as you need," he explained. "Let's have 500 niche channels!

"If you happen to be interested in the wholesale price of bananas in Costa Rica, let's have a channel that keeps a close eye on the price of bananas in Costa Rica. But we don't have the money to do that. We have, it seems, barely enough money to meet our core obligations."

03/09/2007 17:01:44