BBC licence fee under attack

03 November 2009

LONDON: Former BBC director general Greg Dyke is to recommend that the compulsory BBC licence fee be ditched at a saving of more than £100m (€110m; $163m) per year, it was reported by the Guardian newspaper yesterday.

Dyke, who is leading a review of media policy for the Conservative Party, will suggest in a report to be published next year that the BBC should continue to be funded from the public purse – to the tune of around £3.6bn per year - but via general taxation or a government grant, rather than through the current licence fee system.

The BBC currently spends more than £123m administering, collecting and chasing licence fees.

Under Dyke's proposals, this money would be set aside to help pay for public service broadcasting on commercial channels; possibly including local news.

Introduced in 1923, the first combined radio and TV licence cost just £2. In the intervening 86 years, the price-tag has soared to £142.50 and has attracted mounting criticism from many public figures.

Dyke himself called it “a desperately unfair tax” in a widely-reported speech last year.  

While the BBC itself argues that the licence fee arrangement guarantees the corporation's independence, Conservative Party leader David Cameron is not a fan.

He believes that the licence should be frozen at its current rate and has repeatedly called for the BBC to curb what he claims is its “profligacy.”

Last week, the BBC announced that it would reduce the salaries of senior managers and prepare to cut 18% of senior posts by 2013.

Data sourced from the Guardian; additional content by WARC staff