Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries announced yesterday, on Monday, that the TV licence fee will be frozen at £159 for two years, and that a review will be undertaken that could see it scrapped entirely. She said the move would help families struggling as a result of the growing “global cost of living”. BBC Director-General Tim Davie hit back at this decision, warning that the broadcaster would “inevitably” be forced to cut programmes and services if the fee did not rise with inflation.
Mr Davie told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Tuesday that, under his watch, cuts have already been made in cutting costs that “don’t affect licence fee payers” – that is, by reducing the number of services available to the public.
He added that its spending operations were “lean” in areas including support staff.
Ms Dorries announced that after two years remaining at £159, the licence fee would increase as per the rate of inflation until 2027, after which time the fee could be scrapped altogether.
The corporation’s head said internal calculations put the loss of income due to this freeze at just shy of £300million.
Such a cut would result in its current “lean” spending being too exorbitant, he added, and would “inevitably” beckon the end of some programmes.
Mr Davie noted his disappointment in the settlement and said: “Our estimate is, and just to set this clearly for everyone, by the year end 2027, the licence fee income will be about £4.2billion based on our assumptions around inflation, obviously guessing games around inflation are obviously difficult.
“We know this settlement… gives a £285million gap at the end of the period.”
He insisted: “This will affect our front line output.”
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She added that it was time to discuss new ways of “selling great British content”, though later appeared to water down her remarks.
On Monday, the Government minister committed only to a “review” of the current funding model.
According to Bow Group Chairman Ben Harris-Quinney, the abolition of the licence fee is no longer a question of if but when.
He told Express.co.uk that it is “inevitable” the fee will be axed.
But he suggested this would’t go far enough given the BBC’s “betrayal” of the public.
Mr Harris-Quiney said: “Taxpayers have been scammed out of hundreds of billions by the BBC over the years, to be force fed liberal propaganda.
“We don’t just want the licence fee gone, we want it broken up, sold off, and we want our money back.”