BBC Wins £100m Licence Fee Hike, Launches BBC3

12 February 2003

The British Broadcasting Corporation can look forward to an extra £100 million ($162m; €151m) in annual revenues after UK culture, media and sport secretary Tessa Jowell announced an increase in the licence fee.

In line with a plan agreed in 2000, the fee – an annual tax on television owners that funds the BBC – will rise by £4 from April 1, bringing it to £116 a year for a colour TV licence and £38.50 for black and white.

However, the government is preparing to review the way the BBC is financed after claims the Corporation has used fee-payers’ money to move away from its public service remit and pursue ratings while the commercial sector languishes amid the ad downturn.

In what is said to be an example of this process, the BBC launched its new digital youth channel BBC3 at the weekend.

The channel has infuriated rivals, who argue the BBC is entering a sector already sufficiently catered for by commercial broadcasters.

Launch night viewing figures were hardly huge – only 154,000 on average tuned in. The BBC, however, claims it was a success, attracting three times the previous week’s audience for its predecessor, BBC Choice, and pulling in a 9.8% share of the advertiser-friendly 25–34 demographic in multi-channel homes.

Data sourced from: multiple sources; additional content by WARC staff