UK.gov may cut BBC licence fee in 2012
Culture minister says 'tough discussions' to follow
Culture minister Jeremy Hunt reiterated over the weekend that the BBC’s licence fee could be cut in recognition of the “very constrained financial situation” the country currently faces.
The Tory MP, in an interview with Saturday’s Daily Telegraph, accused the Beeb of being guilty of “extraordinary and outrageous” waste in the past few years.
He warned that the government’s silence on the licence fee issue did not mean the ConDem coalition was satisfied with the BBC management team.
“We will be having very tough discussions,” said Hunt.
In fact the minster gave the clearest signal yet that viewers could soon be paying less for their licence fee once his department renegotiates the £145.50 a year levy with the Mark Thompson-led Corporation next year.
When asked whether he could see the licence fee being reduced when it’s up for renewal in 2012, Hunt answered: “Yes I could. Absolutely. I think that’s the discussion that we need to have.”
In recent months the BBC has been making noises about reeling back spending at the corporation by announcing plans to redirect £600m into "high quality" programmes.
As a result, the Beeb's website operation will effectively be halved over the next few years, with its online budget being slashed by a quarter.
Many have interpreted director-general Thompson's proposals as his effort to allay the government's licence fee concerns.
In March the Tories made a pre-election pledge in which the party said it would "consider using the proportion of the licence fee dedicated to digital switchover to finance superfast broadband roll out under the new BBC licence fee settlement, starting in 2012", if it failed to convince the private sector to get on board with its plans.
If that happens, alongside cuts to the annual licence fee, then it's possible the BBC's spending could be even more squeezed.
Inevitably, protests against the possible licence fee cuts have already surfaced online. ®
"would be a happy one for European consumers"
Because the quality of our TV and radio would be determined by market forces? Yeah, for example American television leads the world in quality, happiness and "fair & balanced" commentary. Don't they?
I do love how critics of the BBC licence fee often point towards a market-based system as the better way. More expensive than the licence fee, with lower quality, and subject to whatever political whims Rupert Murdoch wants you to believe today. SkyFox: coming soon to a media oligopoly near you. First up on the new channel: "Why The Newspapers Owned By The People Who Own This TV Channel Are Great."
I mean, who in their right mind pays a subscription fee to watch adverts? Sky customers, that's who. And people with that sort of logic don't inspire confidence in their decision making capabilities.
ConDems repaying Murdoch's loyalty
I wondered how long it would take for the Conservatives to have to repay the free election campaigning that the Murdoch stable gave them. I really shudder at the thought of the dismantling of the BBC in favour of Sky's vision of the Broadcast media. We should also not forget that Sky has a budget about 600million higher than the BBC it is not playing second fiddle to the BBC as the Murdoch papers would have us believe.
Now I can look for every channel full of crap, instead of merely most of them.
Aye well, if Radio 4 and perhaps BBC2 remain, it'll not be too bad. But the day the BBC starts inserting adverts - instead of merely leaving wholes in the programmes for them - is the day I sell the TV.
In spite of what Murdoch and his advert-ridden ilk would have you believe, there *is* a difference between the BBC and every other broadcaster in the world: the BBC's mandate is to deliver entertainment to people - and the commercial's mandate is to deliver eyeballs to advertisers.
I'll believe Murdoch's boast that he can deliver quality programming when he offers it free of advertising, able to stand on its own merits and attracting paying customers.