BBC licence fee’s future ‘up for discussion’ says Dorries
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Whisperings from within the Government suggest the TV licence fee could be approaching its final years. But a conservative commentator claimed this has not done enough to reassure Britons that the BBC will soon be forced to change its funding model.
Bow Group Chairman Ben Harris-Quinney insisted the Government must do more to demonstrate its stated commitment to axing the licence fee if it is to maintain the public’s trust.
Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries recently announced on Twitter that the next licence fee announcement “will be the last”.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson told Cabinet he was “right behind this” idea, according to a report in The Sun.
But following her tweet, Ms Dorries appeared to water down her pledge, telling Parliament only that ministers will “undertake a review” of the BBC’s funding ahead of the expiration of the broadcaster’s current charter in 2027.
Boris urged to double down on licence fee pledge – talking about axing is ‘meaningless’. (Image: Getty)
BBC Broadcasting House. (Image: PA)
Mr Harris-Quinney told Express.co.uk: “This is meaningless as the conversation has long begun.
“Saying that they are going to begin a conversation to conclude when there is likely to be a different Government in office is a commitment to nothing.”
He added: “Any commitments not set in stone will likely be discarded as soon as the pressure is off.”
Mr Harris-Quinney accused Whitehall of pinning a faint question mark over the future of the fee – which has been frozen at £159 over the next two years – in order to distract away from criticism over what has been dubbed ‘Partygate’.
David Dimbleby said the licence fee was ‘unfair’ and should be reformed. (Image: Getty)
Andrew Marr suggested the licence fee could be replaced by a ‘subscription model’. (Image: Getty)
He asked: “Why does it take a crisis for the Conservative Party to do the conservative things people elected them to do?”
The think tank chairman said Mr Johnson must tackle the issue head-on rather than make comments in the background.
To demonstrate a proper willingness to settle the issue, he urged the Prime Minister to move ahead with axing the licence fee and with a range of other measures.
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Top on-screen earners at the BBC. (Image: Express)
Mr Harris-Quinney 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.”
This follows the intervention of two BBC heavyweights into the ongoing debate over the licence fee.
Boris Johnson after admitting he attended a ‘bring your own booze’ party in May 2020. (Image: Getty)
Former Question Time host David Dimbleby, who has spent most of his professional life at the broadcaster, branded the levy “manifestly unfair” and “inequitable”.
He argued that it ought to be reformed on the basis of the council tax rate bands, with those living in richer areas paying more to prop up the BBC and those in poorer areas paying less.
Former BBC presenter Andrew Marr went one step further in an interview with the Mail, suggesting the licence fee model might have to be replaced with a “subscription model” in the coming years.
Mr Marr revealed he left the broadcaster because he was “frustrated” with having to “self-censor” his opinions.