The Conservative government has said that if it is still in power in 2027 at the time of the BBC’s next charter renewal, it will scrap the licence fee.
Culture Secretary, Nadine Dorries, said in a Tweet over the weekend that “This licence fee announcement will be the last. The days of the elderly being threatened with prison sentences and bailiffs knocking on doors, are over. Time now to discuss and debate new ways of funding, supporting and selling great British content.”
Dorries is expected to freeze the licence fee at its current level of £159 meaning that, as inflation is currently at 5.1%, the corporation will see a further £2bn cut to its budget.
A Mail on Sunday report suggested that Dorries will also peg any further increases, at the next reviews in 2024 and 2027, below the rate of inflation.
As The BBC has already made a series of cuts behind the scenes in recent years, the freeze will now hit on air services especially as programme-making costs rise due to streamer competition and inflationary pressure.
The Conservative government has accused The BBC of ‘left wing bias’ for reporting scandals such as the ‘Partygate’ affair.
Speaking to the Mail on Sunday, an “ally” of Dorries said: “There will be a lot of anguished noises about how it will hit popular programmes, but they can learn to cut waste like any other business.
“This will be the last BBC licence fee negotiation ever. Work will start next week on a mid-term review to replace the Charter with a new funding formula.
“It’s over for the BBC as they know it.
“Nadine wants to continue to produce high quality British television – she doesn’t want it all to come from America – but the days of state-run TV are over.
“It is not yet clear whether the future will be share ownership or subscription, but there will be no more licence fee renewals as long as Boris is PM.
“The new generation of 19- to 34-year-olds are watching YouTube, Netflix and videos on demand – they don’t watch the BBC, and shouldn’t be forced to pay for it.
“Nor should hard-working households or pensioners.”
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