Licence fee

Elon Musk is right about BBC funding

The BBC has today been using its various news platforms to protest against being described as ‘government funded’ by Twitter. It has instructed Twitter to remove this insult ‘as soon as possible’ and its journalistic contacts have found a direct link to Elon Musk himself who, we are told, is a ‘fan’ of the BBC. So perhaps a quiet word with the right person in power can overcome this little hiccup. Radio Four even had a ‘debate’ which just featured one interviewee: Mary Hockaday, a former BBC executive. ‘As a BBC journalist, I care about accuracy,’ she said, ‘the simple fact is that to describe on Twitter the BBC as

Which MPs are expensing their licence fee?

It’s not just the BBC’s well-paid stars who didn’t like hearing that the licence fee will be abolished. Labour MPs have been spitting feathers at Nadine Dorries’s audacious move to phase out the existing system by 2028, with many standing up in the House of Commons today to proclaim their dismay. Lucy Powell, Dorries’ opposite number, wailed that the government’s ‘cultural vandalism’ risked ‘destroying everything that is great about Britain.’ As the creator of the Ed Stone, she’d know all about that. Powell doubled down on Twitter, claiming the abolition of the licence fee was ‘the end of of the BBC as we know it’. Strong stuff and Powell’s colleagues were quick to retweet in

Watch: Tory MP savages ‘rotten’ BBC

It has been a bruising afternoon for the BBC in the House of Commons. An urgent question was granted on the findings of the Dyson report into the Martin Bashir affair and the subsequent cover up of how Panorama obtained its Princess Diana interview in 1995. Tory MP after Tory MP has queued up to lambast the Beeb for its failings. Memorable moments included John Redwood asking, ‘How can someone who supports Brexit, believes in the Union and loves England be persuaded that the BBC’s views of public service broadcasting in future be fair to their views?’ and Iain Duncan Smith calling for BBC bosses and Bashir to be referred to the

The BBC licence fee hike adds insult to injury

In these chill winter days it’s good to know that at least one old lady is warmly wrapped up. The announcement that the BBC licence fee will rise in line with inflation is another modest, but comforting, layer of financial insulation wrapped around Auntie’s well-padded frame.  The new cost will be £159, up by about £1.50; so nothing to get excited about perhaps. But each time the licence fee is raised it focuses attention on the funding privileges that the Corporation enjoys and fuels the debate about whether those privileges should continue. The BBC, in its defence, makes what at first glance seems a very sound ‘value for money’ argument.

The BBC needs to face up to the truth about the licence fee’s future

It won’t come as much of a surprise to learn that the National Audit Office thinks the BBC faces ‘significant’ uncertainty over its financial future due to changes in viewing habits. The NAO’s findings are about as ground-breaking as your average anodyne Beeb drama, but they do tighten the cilice on a funding model that is impossibly outdated in the 21st century.  In the past decade alone, there has been a 30 per cent decline in BBC TV viewing; on average, the amount of time an adult spent watching broadcast BBC TV fell from 80 minutes per day in 2010 to 56 minutes in 2019. When it comes to younger

Richard Sharp will not lead a BBC revolution

If you wanted to start a revolution would you choose an Oxford educated multi-millionaire banker to lead it? Not the obvious choice is it? Which is why the news that the next chairman of the BBC Board is to be ex-Goldman Sachs banker Richard Sharp looks very like a retreat from any serious attempt to reform the Corporation. Tim Davie, the Director-General (DG) and the rest of the BBC executive board will be breathing sighs of relief; it looks very much like ‘business as usual’ at New Broadcasting House. The Revolution is postponed. In choosing Mr Sharp, a walking caricature of the Establishment, the Johnson government is signalling that it’s

The benefits of the coronavirus era

On the ‘count your blessings’ principle, it is worth making a list of benefits of the coronavirus era. These include: no aeroplane noise, no smell of hamburgers, much shorter weekend newspapers, more work for good butchers, and a temporary end to the persecutions of TV Licensing. I am wondering whether to refuse to pay my licence all over again. I am reluctant, since last time it cost me £800, but one reads that non-payment will not be pursued while the plague lasts. Even if it were, could the magistrates’ courts sit to hear the cases? This is an extract from Charles Moore’s Spectator Notes, available in this week’s magazine.