The new Culture Secretary has said it is “impossible” to maintain the BBC under the current license fee model when she mentioned the future of the broadcaster.
Earlier this year, Michelle Donelan’s predecessor Nadine Dorries announced that license fees would be frozen at £159 for the next two years until April 2024 – but said she wanted to find a financial model new support before the current agreement expires in 2027 as it is “completely obsolete”.
Appearing ahead of the first ever Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee meeting on Tuesday, Ms Donelan confirmed that she would continue to review the Government on the annual fee.
She praised the BBC as part of Britain’s “social and cultural fabric”, but said “it is undeniable that royalty fees are not a long-term sustainable model in its own right”.
Referring to license fee payers as “subscribers,” she continued: “We know that because obviously, the number of subscribers is decreasing.
“There is a blip of change around the age of 75, but it is not a sustainable pattern in the long term.
“So if we want to make the BBC sustainable, we need to be honest about it and work together to make sure we protect it going forward.”
Ms Donelan highlighted how the media landscape has “changed dramatically” over the past few decades and that “consumer preferences have been amazingly enhanced”, which she feels BBC must take the lead.
When asked what she would do if the recommendation review did not change the funding model, Ms. Donelan said she thinks that outcome is “impossible”.
If we want to make the BBC sustainable, we need to be honest about it and work together to make sure we protect it going forward. And I’d love to work constructively with the BBC on that.Michelle Donelan, Culture Minister
“Unless you greatly increase the license fee per household, which will further reduce the number of people applying, I cannot understand how you can achieve those,” she said. needed numbers without adding that funding with another initiative .
“So the answer can’t be simply to keep paying license fees if we want to protect the BBC, which I think we should.”
The culture secretary admits a license fee review has yet to be done, but assures it will be “evidence-based” in its research.
In recent months, the BBC has announced a series of changes and cuts as part of a new strategy to create a “modern, digitally-led” broadcaster.
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Among the proposals, the group recently said it plans to cut back on local radio stations and ask them to share more content and broadcast less programming specific to their region.
The proposals confirmed by the broadcaster include the loss of 48 jobs in local staff in the UK, for a total reduction of 2%.
The plans have drawn criticism from figures including Culture Secretary Julia Lopez and 90 Labor leaders from the UK, who have written to BBC director general Tim Davie asking him to rethink the plans. change.
During the DCMS meeting, Ms Donelan said she understood why the cuts were being made but she was “disappointed” that the Government was not informed about them in advance.
“I think there are two disappointing things about this, it is clearly the decision and we know that many members of parliament have expressed their concerns on behalf of locals regarding this decision and the decision has been made. next in Northern Ireland,” she said.
“But also the way it was handled because, I think, they’d better approach us first and talk about it.”
She continued: “They are completely editorially independent and we will not refute their decision, but I think working constructively and together is always the best approach and certainly the best approach. the way I want to do it.
“I wrote to the BBC about this and they realized that in the future they would adopt that approach.”
The culture secretary said she wasn’t sure if they would revisit the issue, adding: “But I think they realize it could have been handled in a better way and they clearly realize the level of concern they have. concerns of members of Congress and members of the Public.”
Last week, the BBC’s country director, Rhodri Talfan Davies, defended the cuts to local radio services as needed to “catch up with how audiences are changing”.
He told the DCMS Commission that the total amount being diverted out of local radio came to around £11m, with around £4m of that being reinvested in BBC Sounds and podcasting.
https://www.independent.ie/entertainment/impossible-to-sustain-bbc-on-current-licence-fee-model-culture-secretary-says-42200276.html Unable to sustain BBC with current license fee model, says Culture Secretary