BBC licence fee 'has many flaws' says John Whittingdale
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The Culture Secretary indicated she is not rowing back from the pledge she made in January to end the current model following the conclusion of the current Royal Charter. The Charter, which sets out the terms of operation for the broadcaster, guarantees the corporation will continue to receive money via the licence fee until 2027.
Ms Dorries, who has been a long term critic of the current funding arrangement, has now suggested Government is ready to open a consultation into the future of the BBC in the coming weeks.
“We are going to very soon announce that we are going to be looking very seriously about how we fund the BBC,’ she told The Spectator magazine.
“We are ready to implement a new way of funding the BBC.”
Her comments will delight campaigners who have accused the licence fee of being an out of date way of funding a national broadcaster.
Currently, any household which watches linear TV is required to pay £159 a year to do so.
The fee is the same regardless of whether the user watches just the BBC’s flagship half-hour news bulletin at 10pm or hours of programming each day.
Non-payment of the licence fee is a criminal offence and failure to pay a fine for the offence can lead to a prison sentence.
Many of those urging reform to the funding model want to see the licence fee replaced with a subscription service similar to Netflix or Amazon Prime.
The MP first signalled her intention for change at the start of the year when she announced she was freezing the cost of the TV charge.
The licence fee has risen in line with inflation since 2016 but in January the Culture Secretary said she would keep it at the current rate for the next two years to ease the burden for families in the face of rising living costs.
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It will then increase with inflation until 2027 when a new settlement between the Government and BBC will be reached.
At the time, Ms Dorries said: “This licence fee announcement will be the last.”
She added: “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.”
The corporation bemoaned the freeze as he warned it would lead to a funding gap that would “affect our frontline output”.
In her latest comments, Ms Dorries added she was also looking at how the media regulator Ofcom could “hold the BBC to account”.
She said: “We’re going to be looking at how Ofcom hold the BBC to account.
“And then very shortly after that we will be announcing other measures that we are going to put into place to start looking at how the BBC will be funded in the future so that we are well in time to have that in place for the charter renewal.”
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