BBC brands licence fee freeze ‘disappointing’ as Nadine Dorries confirms funding fix

·2 min read

The BBC has criticised the Government’s two-year freeze of the licence fee, arguing it will lead to “tougher choices” that will impact on viewers.

Bosses at the corporation branded the move “disappointing” after Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries told MPs on Monday it was necessary to tackle the rising cost of living.

Labour accused the Cabinet minister of waging a “vendetta” against the BBC, as she also confirmed a review of the licence fee’s existence in the future.

Ms Dorries said the BBC had asked for the fee to rise to over £180 by the end of the current settlement but said it will instead be fixed at £159 until April 2024 before rising with inflation for the following four years.

She argued that the freeze was necessary to help households through “difficult times”, telling the Commons: “When it comes to monthly bills, this is one of the few direct levers that we have in our control as a Government.”

BBC chairman Richard Sharp and director-general Tim Davie issued a statement arguing that there are “very good reasons for investing in what the BBC can do”.

“A freeze in the first two years of this settlement means the BBC will now have to absorb inflation,” they said.

“That is disappointing – not just for licence fee payers, but also for the cultural industries who rely on the BBC for the important work they do across the UK.

“The BBC’s income for UK services is already 30% lower in real terms than it was 10 years ago. We will set out the implications of the settlement later, before the end of the financial year, but it will necessitate tougher choices which will impact licence fee payers.”

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