Broadcasting license fee in Great Britain. Hard times for the BBC

As of: 01/17/2022 5:21 p.m

The British government wants to cut the funding for the BBC. This would mean a radical change for the broadcaster – in the 100th year of its existence, of all things. The opposition is outraged and speaks of a diversionary maneuver.

By Imke Köhler, ARD Studio London

The UK government has yet to table its plans in Parliament, but Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries has tweeted and the conservative Mail on Sunday newspaper has also reported on it. Accordingly, the broadcasting fees should initially be frozen for two years, then slightly increased again and completely abolished in 2027. In 2027, the “Royal Charter” will be renewed, comparable to the German Interstate Broadcasting Treaty.

Imke Koehler
ARD-Studio London

“It’s a diversionary maneuver”

The excitement after the news is great – and that’s exactly what the government planned, says Lucy Powell, Labor shadow secretary for digital affairs, culture, media and sport: “We shouldn’t pretend that it’s something different than it is: It’s a red herring to artificially create excitement and distract from the prime minister’s disastrous leadership crisis.”

However, the BBC and the license fee have been discussed for a long time. Boris Johnson’s former chief adviser, Dominic Cummings, has even been accused of wanting to abolish the BBC altogether. And it’s no secret that the Tory government wants to at least change the BBC’s funding model.

BBC needs new funding model

Lord Michael Grade, an important personality in the British media world and himself a former program director at the BBC, accuses the public broadcaster of living in a dream world: “159 pounds a year may not be much for someone like Gary Lineker or for the BBC – Bosses and commentators. But for the majority of people in this country, that’s a lot.”

Grade believes the BBC will eventually have to come up with a new funding model of its own. Regarding possible future approaches, he said: “There are many ideas. I would rule out advertising because it would take money away from other stations. Subscriptions are one possibility. But what do you do with the radio then?” He himself believes that there is no country in the world where subscriptions for radio stations work. “You could work with subsidies,” says Grade. “Or there is the idea of ​​taxing the big streaming services to use the money. There are many ideas.”

£3.2 billion a year

Other industry experts are very critical of moving away from the fee system. Media analyst Claire Enders, for example, said on the BBC that she believes license fees are an excellent form of funding that is exceptionally cheap. “Public service broadcasting is considered an excellent model by all the leading countries in the world except the US, where efforts to do so were snuffed out by Rupert Murdoch some 25 years ago.”

The BBC now faces even more difficult times. The period of only five years for far-reaching changes is very short.

Broadcasting fees currently bring in around £3.2 billion a year for the BBC. Abolition would likely mean the end of several programs and niche channels and the loss of thousands of jobs.

British government plans to abolish broadcasting license fees by 2027

Imke Koehler, ARD London, 17.1.2022 4:35 p.m

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