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BBC licence fee: Boris Johnson told to step in to 'squeeze' broadcaster into reform

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The BBC sparked major outrage after confirming in 2019 the free TV licence fee scheme for the over-75s would be scrapped, resulting in a heated debate on the future of the broadcaster. Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden launched a review into the BBC system in November last year, suggesting considerable reform would be required to meet public demands as online broadcasting platforms continue to grow popular at a much lower cost than the broadcaster. The BBC confirmed last week plans to relaunch the BBC Three channel in a bid to lure in younger viewers as well as the move of flagship shows out of London to diversify the programming.

But Defend the BBC activist Calvin Robinson insisted Boris Johnson and his Government must “squeeze” the organisation to ensure reform is delivered.

Asked whether a return to free TV licences for the over-75s could be considered as part of change plans, Mr Robinson said: “The BBC is not going to do a single thing.

“What we need is the Government to hold them to account and put and squeeze on them. And reform them, like they promised.

“It’s a massive shame the Government seem to have changed now, they don’t seem to have that appetite to defund the BBC which was there before.”

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Mr Robinson continued: “Boris Johnson talked a lot about it, MPs have talked about it.

“Dominic Cummings was on this reform agenda and since his departure, it seems to have gone done.

“And it’s a massive shame because the people, the British people are saying defund the BBC, change needs to happen and it’s up to the Government to make that happen.”

Older viewers have condemned the BBC over perceived attempts to move towards younger generations, according to the director of the Silver Voices campaign group.

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A group of MPs said that the Government will be forced to rely on the current BBC TV licence fee model until 2038.

A report from a Commons select committee suggests the failure to find a viable alternative form of funding meant the licence fee must remain for the term of the next charter.

The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee said in their report: “The Government either needs to come out with a strong alternative to the licence fee that it can put to Parliament or strongly support the current model for at least the next charter period (2028-2038) and actively aid the BBC in driving down evasion.”



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