BBC licence fee’s future ‘up for discussion’ says Dorries
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Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries pledged last month that the current licence fee settlement “will be the last”. The Mid Bedfordshire MP announced she was launching a consultation on future funding for the corporation for after the deal on the current settlement ends in 2027.
However, campaigners fear ministers may now ditch plans to scrap the licence fee forcing Britons to continue coughing up for its services.
Ms Dorries – a long term critic of the BBC – has publicly praised the broadcaster for its coverage of Putin’s barbaric actions in Eastern Europe.
She was close to tears in the House of Commons last month as she praised journalists “risking their lives” to report from Ukraine.
“At this point I would just like to offer my heartfelt thanks and admiration to all of those journalists working for the BBC, ITV and other news outlets who are risking their lives to bring us unbiased and accurate news from a live war zone,” she said in Parliament.
“We will keep ratcheting up the pressure on Putin and I will use all the levers in my department to ensure that he is fully ostracised from the international community.”
Earlier this week the Government announced an extra £4.1million in funding for the corporation’s World Service to fight Russian disinformation.
Campaign group Defund the BBC now warning ministers not to force the British public to continue paying the licence fee because of the war.
They say the Government must plough ahead with exploring future funding models and should pay for the BBC World Service itself if No10 wants to use the broadcaster as a way of countering the Russian narrative.
The group’s campaign director, Rebecca Ryan, told Express.co.uk: “If the Government see the World Service as an important tool for soft power then it must be funded completely separately from the licence fee and the organisation must be held to the highest standards of impartiality.
“The British people are facing an unprecedented cost-of-living crisis brought about by decades of short-sighted green signalling.
“It is not acceptable for people who are having to choose between heating and eating to be bullied on their doorsteps by lackeys of a woke metropolitan campaign organisation.”
The licence fee currently costs households £159 a year, with anyone who watches linear TV forced to pay the price.
With inflation reaching a 30 year high of 6.2 percent, and experts warning living standards have plummeted to their lowest level since the 1950s, Ms Dorries confirmed in January that the cost of a TV licence would be frozen for the next two years.
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It will then rise in line with inflation until the end of the 10 year Royal Charter, which sets out the BBC’s obligations, ends in 2027.
Speaking in the Commons in February she said: “The decision as to what the future funding model looks like is up for discussion.”
The BBC did not respond to Express.co.uk’s request for comment, however the corporation’s Chief Content Officer Charlotte Moore last week claimed the broadcaster had proven its value over the course of the pandemic and the conflict in Ukraine.
She said the UK had “never needed a public service broadcaster more”.
“I really think right now that the BBC is proving its worth,” she told the Radio Times magazine.
“I think we did that during Covid.
“There are these moments when there is a real feeling that we’ve never needed a public service broadcaster more, to inform and educate and entertain and to bring the nation together.”
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