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£15 on BBC licence fee ‘too much’ says minister

By Claire Ellicott Whitehall Editor

INCREASING the BBC licence fee by almost £15 would ‘absolutely’ be too much, the Culture Secretary warned yesterday.

Lucy Frazer raised concerns that a ‘significant rise’ in the fee would add to cost of living pressures on households.

The price of the TV licence has been frozen for the last two years at £159, but was due to increase in April in line with inflation to £173.30 a year.

Ms Frazer is looking at which measure of inflation to use to calculate the rise.

Asked by BBC Breakfast whether £15 would be too big an increase, Ms Frazer replied: ‘Absolutely. I think that is quite a significant rise.

‘We froze the licence fee to help households with their daily payments. That freeze has come to an end and it is due to rise with inflation but we’re looking at ways to make sure that is sustainable for families.’

Ms Frazer also denied the Government was ripping up a deal with the BBC, telling Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘I wouldn’t put it like that.

‘What we’re looking at is the appropriate rate of inflation. And we’re considering that with an eye on the fact that we want to ensure that people continue to be able to afford their bills.’ Ms Frazer said a decision will be made ‘very soon’.

At the weekend Rishi Sunak said the BBC needs to be ‘realistic’ about what people can pay ‘at a time like this’. The Prime Minister said it should ‘cut its cloth appropriately’.

The BBC is looking to make £500million of savings. A spokesman said: ‘The BBC will continue to focus on what it does best: working to deliver world-class content and providing great value for all audiences.’

MOST people have a soft spot for the BBC. Over the years, its news programmes, documentaries, game shows and literary adaptations became staples of British life.

In this multimedia age, however, its reach and relevance have declined rapidly. Many consumers – especially younger ones – have simply switched to other providers.

Yet to watch anything on your television, you must pay a hefty tax to the BBC, also known as the licence fee, or face prosecution. If the Corporation has its way, that fee will soon rise by 9 per cent to £173.30.

The Government rightly says this is too much, but is there really a case for any increase? Some, including former Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries, want the levy scrapped altogether and replaced by a subscription model. This idea may be reaching its time.

For while the BBC holds a special place in the nation’s affections, in an era of almost infinite media choice, a compulsory licence fee looks increasingly anachronistic.





dmg media (UK)