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BBC to face below-inflation increase to licence fee

BBC

Source: BBC

UK public broadcaster the BBC is to receive a below-inflation increase to the licence fee once the freeze ends next year, the country’s culture secretary Lucy Frazer has indicated.

The UK TV licence fee, the BBC’s primary source of funding, has been frozen by the government for the past two years at £159 ($201) per year until April 2024, after which it was due to rise with inflation by 9%, up by almost £15 to £173.30.

However, during an interview with Sky News, Frazer Frazer said she was concerned that figure was a “very high level” and wanted to ensure the licence fee rise would instead be an “appropriate amount” due to the cost of living crisis.

“It’s a decision that I’m looking at the moment and we’ll be making an announcement on this very shortly,” said Frazer.

Discussing BBC funding over the weekend, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said that the pubcaster should be “realistic about what it can expect people to pay at a time like this” and that it was right for it to be “looking at making savings and efficiencies in how they operate.”

A below-inflation increase would likely lead to further cuts to staffing and programming at the Line Of Duty and Doctor Who broadcaster. The Tim Davie-led organisation is already looking to make £400m of savings by 2027/28, with the BBC previously detailing the “significant financial challenges” placed upon it by the freeze.

Davie has previously outlined plans to cut back on the amount of programming at the BBC and “consolidate” under a single brand, with measures taken including the closure of kids-focused network CBeebies and BBC News Channel merging with the BBC World News network.

This time last year, Frazer’s predecessor as UK culture secretary, Michelle Donelan said that the BBC licence fee model is “impossible” to sustain and suggested that the government could explore a “mixed model where the licence fee is propped up by other sources of funding”.

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