UK Conservative Party Condemns BBC License Fee Hike

04 April 2005

Britain's Conservative Party, teetering on the brink of a general election, has scented possible populist advantage in attacking the BBC for its current cost-cutting dementia.

Not, you understand, that the party is against cost-cutting per se - indeed it has displayed much enthusiasm for such exercises both in and out of office.

Rather it objects to the BBC's current decimation of jobs and services with one hand whilst the other grabs fistfuls of public money in the shape of an increase in its compulsory license fee - equivalent to £130 million annually.

The fee was raised on April 1 by 4.5%, from £121 ($228.54; €176.22) a year to £126.50, under a system agreed by a bipartisan parliamentary committee.

Nonetheless, John Whittingdale, Conservative shadow secretary of state for culture, media and sport, slammed the BBC for levying the additional fees while implementing a so-called efficiency savings package.

Said he: "If the BBC can make savings of that size then there is no need for the licence fee payer to have to pay more."

And, as Whittingdale knows full well, the already overburdened UK taxpayer is unlikely to disagree.

Data sourced from Media Week (UK); additional content by WARC staff