Europe

‘BBC as they know it is over’ Nadine Dorries hits broadcaster with £2billion funding cut

Nadine Dorries talks future of public service broadcasting

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The Culture Secretary issued a two-year licence fee freeze, as negotiations between the government and the BBC over the controversial fee came to an end. The fee will be kept at £159 until 2024. As a result of inflation, estimates show the BBC will have to find savings of more than £2 billion over the next six years in order to fund the freeze.

But the real figure could be even higher than this, as Ms Dorries is considering keeping further increases after 2024 below the level of inflation.

When the Royal Charter comes to an end on December 31 2027, it is likely that a conservative government would replace the licence fee with a new funding model.

The new model would reportedly reflect the rising popularity of TV subscription services, like Amazon Prime Video and Netflix.

Sharing the changes on Twitter, Ms Dorries said: “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.”

But responding to the tweet, former England rugby union player Brian Moore said: “Typical of her to conflate the consequences of not paying a fine, with the licence fee. They apply to all judgement debts.”

He added: “My final comment on Dorries’ BBC announcement – if, as everyone says, it is funded by the licence fee, it should be for licence fee payers to decide its future – not the party who happen to be in Government.”

There has been tension between the government and the BBC over the broadcaster’s alleged Left-wing bias, with senior government ministers hitting out at the corporation for their coverage of recent Downing Street parties earlier this week.”

One insider said it “feels like the BBC isn’t going to stop until [Johnson] is gone.”

Speaking about an interview with Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis on BBC Radio 4, Conservative MP Richard Holden said: “When a BBC interviewer interrupts 32 times in ten minutes, with questions up to 30 seconds long, people will rightly ask: is this an interview, or a diatribe of BBC bias, with a Cabinet Minister being invited in as a human piñata?”, the Daily Mail reported.

But according to the Daily Mail, BBC officials have told Ministers it is unfair to bring alleged bias into discussions about funding.

Officials also warned that a licence fee freeze would hamper the broadcaster’s ability to produce hit programmes, like Line of Duty or David Attenborough’s nature series.

One of Ms Dorries’ allies told the Mail on Sunday that the recent negotiations will be the “last”.

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They said: “There will be a lot of anguished noises about how it will hit popular programmes, but they can learn to cut waste like any other business.

“This will be the last BBC licence fee negotiation ever. Work will start next week on a mid-term review to replace the Charter with a new funding formula.

“It’s over for the BBC as they know it.”

They added: “Nadine wants to continue to produce high-quality British television – she doesn’t want it all to come from America – but the days of state-run TV are over.

“It is not yet clear whether the future will be shared ownership or subscription, but there will be no more licence fee renewals as long as Boris is PM.

“The new generation of 19- to 34-year-olds are watching YouTube, Netflix and videos on demand – they don’t watch the BBC, and shouldn’t be forced to pay for it.

“Nor should hard-working households or pensioners.”

But a BBC source told the Mail that the cuts would put “unacceptable pressure” on the organisation’s finances.

They said: “There has been similar speculation before.

“There are very good reasons for investing in what the BBC can do for the British public and the creative industries and the UK around the world.

“Anything less than inflation would put unacceptable pressure on the BBC finances after years of cuts.”

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