Outrage as government announces end to BBC licence fee
TV and radio stars from across the world of entertainment have rallied behind the organisation
The government has sparked anger after announcing that the next BBC license fee settlement "will be the last."
The news broke on Sunday and was confirmed by culture secretary Nadine Dorries on Twitter.
Dorries wrote that the days of "the elderly being threatened with prison sentences and bailiffs knocking on doors, are over."
Under a new deal, the government intends to keep the fee flat at £159 for a colour license until April 2024. This will see the BBC go through a severe real-terms cut to its funding, with the corporation arguing that a freeze in funding would mean it would have to make a further £2bn in savings, the i reports.
This would likely result in further job losses in news and local services and would certainly mean they would be unable to produce high budget shows such as Line of Duty.
The Conservatives will then introduce a new Royal Charter in 2027 giving them the opportunity to replace the mandatory charge altogether.
The news was met with anger from many across the worlds of television and radio, with stars voicing their support for the BBC.
Gary Lineker described the Beeb as being "revered, respected and envied around the world," adding that it is something that "true patriots of our country should be proud of."
He retweeted a 1985 advert from the BBC which highlighted the many services that the broadcaster offers.
The BBC is revered, respected and envied around the world. It should be the most treasured of National treasures. Something true patriots of our country should be proud of. It should never be a voice for those in government whoever is in power. https://t.co/4aR5cmDLI1
— Gary Lineker 💙💛 (@GaryLineker) January 16, 2022
Meanwhile Armando Iannucci, the creator of The Thick of It, claimed that Dorries had underestimated the "level of support, admiration and respect the public has' for the BBC.
If you really think your Government can win back the public by tossing out a panicky weekend threat to the BBC, then you under-estimate the level of support, admiration and respect the public has for it. https://t.co/T3P91H1dJV
— Armando Iannucci (@Aiannucci) January 16, 2022
And, whilst admitting that there are "good reasons" for the BBC getting criticism, comedian Nish Kumar said that ending the license fee is "bad news."
I know that it feels like absolutely everyone hates the BBC right now, and there are good reasons for that, but ending the license fee is bad news.
— Nish Kumar (@MrNishKumar) January 16, 2022
The move to scrap the BBC license fee is reportedly part of 'operation red meat' - a plan designed to distract dissenting Tory backbenchers from the controversies surrounding Downing Street lockdown parties.
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Boris Johnson is under severe pressure from his party following the scandals, and the announcement of plans such as the scrapping of the license fee is intended to get the party's MP back on side, appeasing them.
Tory MPs have regularly accused the BBC of left-wing bias, and excessively harsh coverage of the Conservative Party.
If the licence fee went up in line with inflation, now 5.1 per cent, the cost would be £167. After two years at the same rate, it would have hit £175.