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New BBC boss ‘seems open to subscription model’ after backlash over TV licence fee

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Last year, the BBC announced it would be scrapping free TV licences for most over-75s, meaning more than three million households will be forced to pay £157.50 a year. Its new measures came into effect from August 1.

The licence fee is the annual cost viewers must pay in the UK and funds the TV, radio and online services of the BBC alone.

Anyone caught watching TV without a licence can be fined up to £1,000 in addition to court costs.

But now, government ministers are expected to announce that those who fail to pay will now face civil penalties, not criminal prosecution.

Tim Davie, who takes over as head of the organisation from tomorrow, is also being challenged to replace the licence fee with a new funding model or face a fight when the charter is renewed in 2027.

One minister told the Daily Telegraph: “There is real optimism that the BBC will come up with a palatable alternative to the licence fee themselves.

“Tim Davie seems open to the idea of a subscription model.”

Mr Davie will also address allegations of bias among staff by making them sign up to new social media rules meaning BBC stars will no longer be allowed to express political views online.

A source close to Mr Davie said: “Tim sees impartiality as the cornerstone of the BBC.

“We need to think about whether there are things that happen with outside interests and on social media that can erode trust.”

Despite various BBC stars, such as Naga Munchetty and Gary Lineker, facing criticism for topping their large salaries with commercial work, Mr Davie’s starting salary will be £525,000.

It is believed the government is also moving forward with plans to give broadcast licences to commercial rivals.

Ofcom has already granted a licence to GB News, a proposed channel aiming to draw in those disillusioned by the BBC.

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In recent weeks, the BBC faced criticism over its decision to scrap Rule, Britannia and Land of Hope and Glory from the Last Night of the Proms in wake of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Calls have been made to defund the BBC altogether after tensions between the public and the corporation reached new heights.

The Defund The BBC campaign argued scrapping the free TV licences for over-75s could open the door for scammers.

Rebecca Ryan, campaign director, told Express.co.uk: “If they are supposed to be a public service broadcaster, they must be held to account to provide an actual public service and I think that’s the key part of it.”

Business expert, Mavis Amanmwak, argued the BBC should not be defunded but the system needs to have a rethink.

She told Express.co.uk: I don’t think the fee should be scrapped altogether, but I think that the system needs a re-think.

“People should definitely not be prosecuted for not paying the licence fee.

“That’s wrong. I do think it should be drastically reduced, to say £30- £50 a year.

“People would be more willing to pay if it was lower, and the BBC would save on their door to door collections.

“So whilst I don’t think the BBC should be defunded altogether, I think the whole system needs a massive re-think so that it’s fairer.”

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