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Whittingdale: BBC licence fee will remain until everyone has access to high-speed broadband

Culture minister again raised the idea of turning the BBC into a subscription service

Despite having previously said scrapping the BBC’s licence fee is “politically impossible”, culture minister John Whittingdale has again mooted the idea that it could be axed when the current Royal Charter ends in 2027.

Speaking in parliament, Whittingdale said the rise of the streamers and the fall in young viewers watching live BBC channels meant the licence fee was becoming harder to justify.

Whittingdale added that the licence fee could not be scrapped “whilst a significant proportion of the population relies on Freeview” to watch the BBC.

“The technology needs to be capable of delivering video on demand to everyone,” he added. “The technology does not allow it now. We will in a few years reach universal coverage and then it will be possible to introduce subscription services as an element of the funding.”

Supporting the petition, Conservative MP Jonathan Gullis said: “I agreed the licence fee should be scrapped at the next Charter Review. The Government should also decriminalise non-payment.”