BBC license fees could be abolished and replaced by a government grant, with viewers paying a voluntary subscription for entertainment and sport by 2027, according to new reports detailed today.
Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries is expected to confirm that the cost of an annual TV license – which is required to watch live TV and access iPlayer services – will remain at £159 until 2024 before rising slightly over the course of of the following three years.
Dorries recently indicated that she wanted to find a new funding model for the BBC after the current license fee funding agreement expires in 2027.
She wrote on Twitter: “This licensing fee announcement will be the last. Gone are the days when the elderly were threatened with prison sentences and bailiffs knocked on doors. Now is the time to discuss and debate new ways to fund, support and sell great UK content.
The move would force the BBC to negotiate a new funding model, with potential options including a voluntary subscription service, partial privatization or direct government funding.
The Mail on Sunday reported that a Dorries ally said: ‘There will be a lot of angst about how it will affect popular programs but they can learn to reduce waste like any other business.
“This will be the final negotiation of the BBC’s licensing fees. Work will begin next week on a mid-term review to replace the charter with a new funding formula.
“It’s over for the BBC as it knows it.”
However, Dorries’ position has drawn overwhelming backlash, with a number of TV and radio stars having since rallied behind the BBC’s television license and calling his decision an “attack on a British institution”. .
Former footballer Gary Lineker led the review, hailing the BBC as “the most precious of national treasures”.
Lineker tweeted to his 8 million followers: “This should be the most precious of national treasures. Something that the true patriots of our country should be proud of. There should never be a voice for those in government, whoever is in power.
He pointed out in a separate Tweet: “Yes, the BBC brings you the very best in news, sport, drama, music, children’s, science, history, entertainment, news and Sir David Bloody Attenborough… but apart from that, what has the BBC already done for us?
Television broadcaster Victoria Coren Mitchell also expressed support for the licence, noting that the press and politicians fail to see the importance of the channel as they are “trapped in their own relationship with information”.
Podcaster Greg Jenner added: “The BBC turns 100 this year. It has constantly changed throughout this period and it is still highly regarded by the British people – too bad the Culture Secretary prefers to fight the culture wars.