BBC License Fee to be Frozen for Two Years

·2 min read

The annual BBC license fee of £159 is to be frozen for two years, U.K. Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries is expected to reveal this week.

While there has been no official government announcement yet, Dorries tweeted a link to an article in U.K. tabloid The Daily Mail, which reported the news first, along with the statement: “This licence fee announcement will be the last. The days of the elderly being threatened with prison sentences and bailiffs knocking on doors, are over. Time now to discuss and debate new ways of funding, supporting and selling great British content.”

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The £3.75 billion ($5.1 billion) license fee is the BBC’s primary source of income. The corporation is advertising free. With the U.K. inflation rate at 5.1% the BBC will have to find a hefty chunk of savings — estimated at £2 billion over six years — to meet the funding gap created by the frozen fee income.

Variety understands that certain sections of government are in favor of scrapping the licence fee model altogether but that is not likely to happen before the BBC’s next governing charter review in December 2027.

Negotiations over the license fee have been going on between the BBC and the U.K. government since 2020.

Earlier this month, BBC director-general Tim Davie had mounted a defence of the license fee revenue model. Writing in The Sunday Times, Davie said: “Our role as an organization solely serving the public has allowed us to take the risks on which innovation in the market depends — from the birth of TV and radio … to breakthroughs such as iPlayer, which blazed a trail for global streamers and created a new market for video on demand.”

“Our focus is again on innovation and reforming the BBC to ensure it can keep delivering value to audiences in this new world,” Davie added. “This means redoubling our efforts in the areas where we are unique and precious: British storytelling, impartial journalism, areas such as education, local news and research and development.”

Promising that the BBC would reinvent itself for the digital age, Davie wrote: “We must create compelling digital services, attract the very best talent from every walk of life, understand where the BBC adds value and listen to all licence-fee-payers. More than anything, we are here to serve, to work tirelessly to offer every single household outstanding value for the licence fee.”

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