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UK faces BBC licence fee for next 17 years despite ‘limited shelf life’ – MPs

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A Commons select committee said the Government has “missed the boat” to reform the funding model. The group suggested the failure to find an alternative meant the licence fee must remain in place “for now”. A Government spokeswoman said the current model will be reviewed before the BBC charter ends in 2027.

The report was published by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee on Thursday.

Julian Knight, DCMS Committee Chair and Conservative MP, said: “It’s clear that the BBC TV licence fee has a limited shelf life in a digital media landscape.

“However, the Government has missed the boat to reform it.

“Instead of coming up with a workable alternative, it has sealed its own fate through a failure to develop a broadband infrastructure that would allow serious consideration of other means to fund the BBC.”

In the report, the committee said it had “explored existing alternatives” to the license fee.

But no other models were “sufficiently attractive to justify recommending… not least given the disruption and expense of doing so”.

It added: “On balance, the licence fee remains the preferred option for that period.”

The Corporation has said it “welcomed” the report and “the conclusion that the licence fee is the best way of funding a universal BBC.”

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He added: “The collaboration by the BBC and ITV on BritBox is a striking example of how they can work together to create a ‘one stop shop’ for video on demand content – a model for future work.”

However, the committee warned there is a “real risk” that the licence fee model will become unsustainable due to payments being evaded.

It called on the BBC to provide more precise and up to date figures on evasion.

Mr Knight said: “We want the BBC to address real concerns about licence fee evasion – we’ve heard that current rates are significantly higher than the figures it has published to date.

“This matters because there is a real risk that the BBC licence fee funding model could become unsustainable as a result of evasion.”



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