British government planning to scrap licence fee, claims report

The British government has drafted a ‘blueprint’ to scrap the licence fee, reports the Sunday Times.

According to the paper, government officials want to drastically alter the makeup of the broadcaster through the licence fee change and downsizing its other assets.

Citing senior aides to the prime minister, the paper says that officials are “not bluffing” and that they want to reduce the reach of the pubcaster into British homes.

The government had in recent weeks launched a review into decriminilising non-payment of the licence fee along with a public consultation, however this new report suggests that officials have already made up their mind.

The terms of the new plan reported by the outlet are:

  • Eradicating the £157.50 per year fee and replacing it with a subscription model;
  • Cutting the number of national TV stations from 10;
  • Forcing the BBC to sell off the “vast majority” of its 61 radio stations
  • Scaling back the BBC website;
  • Banning BBC presenters from having second jobs with other organisations and businesses.

According to one source quoted by the paper: “[The BBC] should have a few TV stations, a couple of radio stations and massively curtailed online presence and put more money and effort into the World Service which is part of its core job. The PM is firmly of the view that there needs to be serious reform. He is really strident on this.”

Speaking last week, BBC chairman David Clementi said that while he is “always glad to debate the future and listen to those who hold strong views,” suggestions of a subscription would not be to the benefit of the broadcaster.

He said: “A subscription service would be unlikely to have much regional presence. It would be very unlikely to continue the level of properly curated programmes for children, or indeed the brilliant Bitesize education services that have helped so many teenagers. It would not have the same commitment to investing in home-grown ideas and talent, to the benefit of our whole creative sector.”

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