BBC licence fee: Ian Collins discusses ‘crack down’
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Melvyn Bragg, 82, has hit out at the Government for wanting to make the BBC “weaker” than ever before, ahead of its new licence fee negotiation settlement, which is set to take place in April. It comes as the corporation continues to receive immense backlash for their coverage of the Covid pandemic.
The Government seems ignorant of the BBC’s great strengths
In a new interview, Bragg penned his distaste for their behaviour, as he credited the BBC for all they good they do.
He said: “As the BBC enters its centenary year, the corporation finds itself sniped at, disparaged and blamed for every current malaise from culture wars to Covid fears.
“Yet I believe the BBC is unique in the world of broadcasting and its strengths are even more valuable now when, at this tipping point in our history, so many other institutions seem to be failing.”
He went on to point out that the licence fee settlement will be a turning point for the broadcaster, with or without Government’s proper backing.
“As it gears up to negotiate a new licence fee settlement in April, this Government seems bent on making the BBC weaker, when every indicator suggests that the opposite course would be the wiser,” he shrugged.
“The Government seems ignorant of the BBC’s great strengths and the affection in which it is held in this country for its reliability, talent, fun, originality and the feeling of being part of a nation that it engenders.
“It belongs to us, the licence-fee payers.”
He continued to tell Radio Times that he feels “we are becoming a lesser country by the year”, and spoke of how he hopes “the BBC is not allowed to become part of this surrender to a creeping deterioration”.
“Indeed, I believe it could lead by example if we want to escape a situation where our great institutions are increasingly damaged for political purposes,” Bragg told the publication
“It comes down to what sort of country we want this to be.
“The BBC has earned our respect and repaid our support, in war and peace, over many years.
“It has built itself in our image. Surely, now that it is so clearly up against it, we cannot let it down.”
It comes as licence fees will be reviewed this month by Culture and Media Secretary Nadine Dorries.
The corporation is said to be preparing for a reduction in funding from tax-payer money and will be forced to tighten its belt.
The senior minister will be holding talks with directors from the BBC to determine the cost of the licence fee over the next five years, which currently stands at £159 per year.
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It is believed that any price increase will sit below inflation rates, but is still expected to rise prior to the royal charter in 2027.
However, this will essentially spell a budget cut for the corporation at a time where the BBC is under huge financial pressure.
They will now be forced to make every penny count over the next five years, with executives forecasting they will need to make savings of around £1billion.
Many consumers in the UK are frustrated at the licence fee, which has been labelled as a forced tax, and a recent poll produced worrying results for the corporation.
The poll by Savanta ComRes for the Defund the BBC campaign group, found that two-thirds of people would support a nationwide vote on the corporation’s funding, while only 13 percent said they would not support the plan.
In light of the poll, which found many wanting a referendum on the licence fee, the BBC disagreed.
A spokesperson for the corporation said: “Our own research paints a very different picture from this snap poll, with the Licence Fee the preferred way of funding the BBC, over advertising and subscription.”
They added: “We offer great value to every Licence Fee payer and the last 12 months has seen the BBC deliver huge audiences and critical praise for a range of shows and content, including on most of today’s front pages.”
Melvyn’s full interview is available to read now in Radio Times.
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