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DCMS launches consultation over licence fee evasion

Culture Secretary warns of BBC "ending up like Blockbuster"

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has launched a consultation on licence fee evasion, as the Government proposes decriminalisation of non-payment.

Culture Secretary Baroness Morgan warned that the BBC needs to “move with the times” or risks “ending up like Blockbuster,” referring to the defunct video rental shop.

“Accountability and value for money must be at the heart of how the BBC is funded,” Baroness Morgan said, arguing that the Government’s role was to “help public service broadcasters be better prepared to meet the challenges of the digital age.”

Former Culture Secretary John Whittingdale added that the proposal was not ideological, “but because the broadcasting world is changing so rapidly.”

Chair of the DCMS select committee Julian Knight said: “Ending prospect of a criminal record for TV licence evasion would have huge implications for BBC.

“It’s time for an open conversation about how we consume and pay for media. What we need is a new, sustainable BBC funding model which will protect the most vulnerable in society.”

Last week the UK’s broadcasting unions warned of an existential threat to the BBC amid job cuts at its news department.