BBC fires back with defiant statement after Nadine Dorries U-turns on licence fee

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On Monday afternoon, the Culture Secretary confirmed the Government’s plans to freeze the licence fee at £159 per year until 2024, before it can rise in line with inflation for four years. Ms Dorries said a Government review would consider how the BBC should be funded going forwards.

Negotiations over the license fee have been going on between the BBC and the Government since 2020.

Taking to Twitter, Ms Dorries posted that the next announcement about the licence fee “will be the last” under the current model.

She also issued a stark warning to the broadcaster over the mandatory fees.

She wrote: “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.”

In a statement firing back at Ms Dorries’ comments, the BBC referred to the licence fee freeze for the next two years as “disappointing” and said there would be “challenges” ahead.

BBC director-general Tim Davie and Chairman Richard Sharp warned the freeze would lead to tougher choices that would impact licence fee payers and “cultural industries that rely on the BBC for the important work they do across the UK”.

This is because the license fee is the BBC’s primary source of income as the corporation is free of advertising.

READ MORE: BBC under pressure as Nadine Dorries told to ‘unshackle’ Britons

However, at the end of their joint statement, Mr Sharp and Mr Davie appear to welcome the review into the broadcaster’s future.

They said: “We actively look forward to the national debate on the next Charter and, of course, all options should be considered.

“The BBC is owned by the public and their voice must always be the loudest when it comes to determining the BBC’s future.”

However, Ms Dorries’ announcement was welcomed by critics of the BBC including those who have spent years campaigning for an end to the compulsory tax on TV.

Among those welcoming the change is the Institute of Economic Affairs free-market think tank whose previous research called for the licence fee to be replaced with a subscription model similar to how the National Trust operated.

They say that a “membership model” of this style “would be entirely voluntary and members would democratically elect a board to pursue the BBC’s overall objectives”.

IEA director general Mark Littlewood said that the broadcaster “continues to fall further and further behind the broadcasting giants of Netflix and Amazon”, adding that “this gap will widen until a new funding approach is found that will allow the BBC to flourish and grow its revenue stream rather than cling on to the comfort blanket of effective compulsion for its funding.

“The corporation should now help kickstart a debate about what this new funding model should look like.”



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