The waiting game over the BBC's licence fee settlement is likely to last another week after yesterday's Cabinet meeting—which was expected to confirm a below-inflation deal, pushed through by Chancellor Gordon Brown—failed to discuss the matter.
Ministers are now expected to consider the settlement at next week's Cabinet meeting, with a formal announcement due from culture secretary Tessa Jowell soon after that.
Jowell is understood to have written to ministers to outline the proposed settlement of a 3% rise in 2007 and 2008, followed by 2% increases in 2009, 2010 and 2011, and a rise of between zero and 2% in 2012.
BBC director general Mark Thompson had asked for annual rises of inflation plus 2.3%, later revised down to 1.8%, in order to fund the development of digital and on-demand services and lead the transition to digital-only television.
Speculation is growing in Whitehall that while the licence fee settlement is now beyond negotiation, ministers might look again at the BBC's borrowing limit of £200m, set in 1992. That could be used to help meet the cost of relocating several BBC departments to Salford.