The UK’s Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries is expected to announce this week that the BBC’s licence fee will be frozen for the next two years.
In an article for the Mail on Sunday, Dorries states that she intends to keep the fee flat at £159 for a colour licence until April 2024, stating: “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.”
The article fails to mention that the UK government passed responsibility for licence fees for the over-75s to the BBC as part of the broadcaster’s last royal charter.
It’s thought the BBC will have to find around £2 billion in savings over six years to fill the funding gap left by the freeze of the licence fee.
Dorries is also expected to announce a review to examine alternative methods of funding the BBC, including a Netflix-style subscription.
A new Royal Charter set to be enacted in 2027 would allow the government to replace the licence fee altogether.
Earlier this month former media minister John Whittingdale called for the licence fee to be scrapped and a government-funded payment put in place for core services like news, topped up by a voluntary subscription for entertainment and sport.