BBC Faces £2Bn in Cuts as Culture Minister Freezes License Fee for Two Years

© REUTERS / HENRY NICHOLLS / FILE PHOTO: Pedestrians walk past a BBC logo at Broadcasting House, as the corporation announced it will cut around 450 jobs from its news division, in LondonFILE PHOTO: Pedestrians walk past a BBC logo at Broadcasting House, as the corporation announced it will cut around 450 jobs from its news division, in London
FILE PHOTO: Pedestrians walk past a BBC logo at Broadcasting House, as the corporation announced it will cut around 450 jobs from its news division, in London - Sputnik International, 1920, 16.01.2022
The cost of the obligatory UK television license has grown over the years — along with the size of national broadcasting entity the BBC, which now has an empire of nine TV channels and 56 radio stations.
Britain's culture secretary has warned the days of funding state-owned media through the compulsory licence fee are numbered.
Nadine Dorries tweeted on Sunday morning that the latest annual rise in the fee — currently £159 for the year — would be the last, and that the British Broadcasting Corporation would have to find a new voluntary model.
"The days of the elderly being threatened with prison sentences and bailiffs knocking on doors, are over," Dorries wrote.
She included a link to a Mail on Sunday report predicting that the BBC would have to make £2 billion in cuts over the next six years as a result of the freeze. The corporation's annual expenditure is around £4 billion, of which £3.2 billion comes directly from the license fee.
While Downing Street did not confirm the plan, a government source said the license was an "important bill" for pensioners and low-income households which the government had the opportunity to cut, and that negotiations were ongoing.
Nut an ally of Ms Dorries told the Mail that the entire TV license model of funding was on its way out.
"This will be the last BBC licence fee negotiation ever," the source said. "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," they added. "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 insider said the corporation would from now on have to make the same tough decisions as private broadcasters
"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," they said. "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."
The state broadcaster has increasingly drawn fire from the ruling Conservative Party in recent years over alleged liberal and left-wing bias — and prominent journalists broadcasting their personal opinions online and even on-air.
A BBC source dismissed the reports of a license fee freeze as "speculation."
"There are very good reasons for investing in what the BBC can do for the British public, and the creative industries and the UK around the world," they said. "Anything less than inflation would put unacceptable pressure on the BBC finances after years of cuts."
London BBC headquarters - Sputnik International, 1920, 13.01.2022
Man With Hammer Attacks Shakespearean Statue at BBC HQ in London

Voluntary Subscription or Tax on TV Sets?

The license, introduced in 1946, has risen steadily over the decades as the BBC expanded from one channel in 1936 to two in 1964 to nine — including two exclusively for children — since the early 2010s. The corporation's stable also now includes 56 national, regional and local radio stations.
Payment is compulsory for anyone in the UK, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man owning television set capable of picking up free-to-air broadcasts — or even if they watch content online on the BBC iPlayer site.
Failure to pay is a crime, backing the argument that the fee is a tax, not a license. Hundreds of thousands of people are prosecuted every year for non-payment, around seven in ten of them women. Those found guilty face fines of up to £1,000 — and can in principal be jailed if they fail to pay.
Tory backbench MP Peter Bone has already introduced a private member's bill in the House of Commons to abolish the fee, prompting Prime Minister Boris Johnson to declare the BBC was a "great national institution".
But Journalist Jay Beecher highlighted that the TV Licensing authority was toothless in its threats to prosecute those refusing to pay, tweeting this week that he had received his 12th "final demand".
The floated freeze in the license drew criticism from long-time BBC employees but approval from conservative journalists.
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