Why the BBC licence fee shouldn't be scrapped

22 Feb 2020

 

I feel like this needs saying, but not every Conservative hates the BBC and wants to scrap the licence fee.  

 

From party members, to MPs, to those who work in No.10, you’d be forgiven for thinking that everyone in the Conservative Party wants to scrap the licence fee. They may be the loudest voices and they might dominate the airwaves and newspapers with their anti-BBC agenda, but they don’t speak for me or the entire Conservative Party. 

 

If this didn’t already need saying, we don’t even have a mandate to scrap the licence fee. The 13.9 million who voted Conservative back in December did not give the Government permission to radically transform the way the BBC is funded.  

 

If Boris and his team were so confident the public were on their side then they should have put scrapping the fee in the party’s manifesto, but they didn’t. In fact, the TV licence was mentioned only once in the manifesto and it was only a vague reference to free TV licences for over-75s and putting the onus on the BBC to fund them.  

 

The BBC is respected around the world. In fact it is the world’s greatest public broadcaster and we should be incredibly proud of that. As we become Global Britain, what sign does it send to the rest of the world if we try and undermine the very institution which makes us truly global?

 

I also don’t buy the licence fee scrappers’ argument that moving to a subscription based model for the BBC will make it more affordable and appealing. There is no other service provider where you can get nine tv channels, 10 national radio stations, local radio and BBC iPlayer for £154.50 a year. 

 

Don’t get me wrong, the BBC is far from perfect. I’m uneasy at the level of pay some of the corporation’s top stars receive, and I do think the BBC could be more efficient but privatising it or moving to a subscription based model just isn’t the answer.  

 

It is now the job of the BBC to demonstrate to its users, especially younger people, why it is relevant and why we should continue with the BBC licence fee. The better the BBC does this, the more the support for scrapping the licence will fall. 

 

There are far more important issues to be tackling right now rather than the licence fee. Let’s focus on delivering what we actually said we’d do in the manifesto – the stuff we actually have a mandate for rather than waging war with the BBC of which there will be no victor.  

 

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