A piece in today’s Times:
The BBC could be moved away from the TV licence to a subscription model when superfast broadband is rolled out to all homes, the media minister said last night.
John Whittingdale said that there would “come a time” in the next few years when a Netflix-style funding system would be possible, but it would require every household to have the technology to watch programmes on demand over the internet, which is not the case now.
Whittingdale said that the government’s plans to accelerate the expansion of broadband could allow subscription funding of the BBC to be considered by the time the corporation’s royal charter expires in 2027.
“The rollout of broadband is very fast, we will reach universal coverage, and there will come a time when it would be possible for us to move towards a full subscription service for everybody, but that time has not yet arrived,” he told MPs.
Whittingdale is leading negotiations with the BBC about the level at which the licence fee should be set from 2022 to 2027. The levy is pegged to inflation, rising to £159 next month. “Young people are turning more and more to video-on-demand services. That does beg the question about whether or not the licence fee model, which has been based on the fact that everybody used the BBC, can continue,” he said.
More than 100,000 people have signed a petition calling for the licence to be revoked. Several Tory MPs used yesterday’s debate to call for the fee to be replaced by a subscription model, claiming that many people feel “ostracised and belittled” by the BBC.
They accused it of breaking its royal charter commitments to impartiality and regional diversity, pushing the identity politics of the liberal metropolitan elite and letting down over-75s by scrapping free licences.
Jonathan Gullis, Conservative MP for Stoke-on-Trent North, criticised the BBC for caving in to left-wing “wokery” and funding the “sky-high salaries of virtue-signalling presenters” such as Gary Lineker.
He said that Leave voters in his constituency felt “ostracised and belittled” by its Brexit coverage, and called for the TV licence to be scrapped to allow real reform. “Times have changed and so must the BBC,” he said.
Gareth Bacon, Conservative MP for Orpington, said that the decision, which was ultimately reversed, not to sing Rule, Britannia at last year’s Last Night of the Proms demonstrated how detached the BBC had become from ordinary people. “Unless the BBC decides to serve everyone, the time will soon come when the licence fee will be abolished to give genuine choice,” he said.
However, Simon Jupp, Conservative MP for East Devon, said that getting rid of the licence fee would “put a financial tourniquet” around the BBC’s neck, leading to mass job losses. [J4MB: What is Simon Jupp’s comment but an admission that given a free choice, many if not most people will decline to fund this appalling ideologically-driven propaganda outfit?] “The BBC is still one of the best broadcasters in the world,” he said.
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