BBC licence fee frozen at £159 until 2024 'then axed' in 'attack on journalism'

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries told real terms cut is “cultural vandalism” and is a “desperate” attempt to distract from ‘partygate’

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries confirmed the news in a tweet

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries has confirmed the Tories’ snap plan to abolish the Licence Fee in what was branded a “pathetic” attack on the BBC’s journalism.

Anger has been growing after the minister revealed the controversial news the levy would be frozen at £159 until April 2024 – despite spiralling inflation – and abolished altogether in 2027 in a tweet on Sunday.

Now, the minister has confirmed the real terms cut to the payment -worth around £3.2 billion to the BBC – and said the Licence Fee model will be reviewed.

Ms Dorries also faced a barrage of claims the announcement was rushed out to “pick fights” with a “great British institution” to distract from the ‘partygate’ row engulfing Boris Johnson as on rule-busting bashes at Downing Street.

She said: The BBC is a great national institution with a unique place in our cultural heritage. It broadcasts British values and identities all over the world and reaches hundreds of millions of people every day.

“But at a time when families are facing a sharp increase in their living costs we simply could not justify asking hard-working households to pay even more for their TV licence.

“This is a fair settlement for the BBC and for licence fee payers. The BBC must support people at a time when their finances are strained, make savings and efficiencies, and use the billions in public funding it receives to deliver for viewers, listeners and users.”

The woman is known to be a BBC actress



Shadow culture secretary Lucy Powell said the Government had a “vendetta” against the BBC over its reporting of the drinking culture at No10 during lockdown.

Meanwhile, a poll by Grassroots Conservatives found that 40% of the Tory rank and file want Boris Johnson to quit.

Ms Powell said: “The cat is out of the bag. The Prime Minister thinks those reporting on his rule breaking should pay consequences, whilst he gets off free.

“We haven’t seen the full details of the licence fee deal, as it’s been leaked to the media before Parliament. The anticipated 5 year deal needs to be fair to the license fee payer while there’s a cost of living crisis, but also ensure the BBC is able to continue to do what it does best: making great programmes, providing local news, educating our children, and underpinning our creative industries in every part of the country.

“The Prime Minister and the Culture Secretary seem hell-bent on attacking this great British institution because they don’t like its journalism. British broadcasting and our creative industries are renowned around the world and should be at the heart of Global Britain.”

BBC bosses have pledged to “continue to make a strong case to the Government for investing” in the corporation after the licence fee came under fire.

In a message sent to staff, director-general Tim Davie and chairman Richard Sharp said they “welcomed” debate and “look forward to engaging in a discussion about public service broadcasting in the UK and how best to fund it”.

In their internal message, Mr Davie and Mr Sharp reminded staff the licence fee is “fixed” until the end of 2027 but said what happens after that “is a matter for public discussion and debate”.

They continued: “At the moment the discussions about the future level of the licence fee for the rest of this Charter period are still ongoing, although we do expect them to conclude very soon.

“We will continue to make a strong case to the Government for investing in the BBC.

“There are very good reasons for investing in what the BBC can do for the British public, the UK creative industries, and the place of the UK in the world.

“This is the case that we’ll continue to make to the Government right until the last moment.”

However, the pair said “it is for the Government to set the licence fee at the level that they believe is appropriate”.

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