Licence fee `on the way out'
Friday 06 December 1996
In an unprecedented admission, Sir Christopher Bland, the corporation's chairman, accepted the prospect that the licence fee might no longer exist in 15 or 20 years' time - or even in as little as five years.
The Tory MP Toby Jessel challenged him in a Heritage Select Committee hearing on the BBC and the future of broadcasting, asking: "If I were not an MP but a bookie, would you think I would be far out if I laid odds against the licence system still being here in 15 or 20 year's time?"
"My own view is yes," Sir Christopher said. He added: "But these are hard things to forecast and right now I think I can say fairly clearly we know we have the licence fee for five years."
For 75 years, the BBC has been funded by the licence payer on the assumption of a universal sharing of interest and the corporation argues it is the best method of ensuring the best service for the nation.
But the payment system is in danger of becoming an anachronism, with the explosion of satellite and cable, pay-per-view and the move to digital transmission. It is due to be reviewed by the Government in 2001.
The notion that the licence fee could come to an end - not least because it could be difficult to justify in the context of 200 television channels and the loss of rights to major sporting events - has never been publicly addressed by the BBC.
Earlier, Sir Christopher had been forced reveal his lack of certainty about the survival of the licence fee when Tory MP Sir John Gorst asked: "Do you foresee the licence fee funding the BBC forever?"
"I'm chairman for another four years and five months," Sir Christopher replied ambiguously. "You can't look forever. It's impossible to say."
- 1 Man on naked bike ride gets ejected after becoming aroused
- 4 Ann Summers survey reveals the UK's favourite sex position
- 5 Ayyan Ali: Pakistan's top model now appears in the courtroom rather than on the catwalk
Man on naked bike ride gets ejected after becoming aroused
Caitlyn Jenner's mother Ester thought her daughter, formerly known as Bruce Jenner, had transitioned for money
Charles Kennedy 1959-2015: A gifted, compassionate politician whose career was cut short by the 'demon drink' - latest news
Charles Kennedy dead: A guy once asked the Lib Dem leader who his favourite Muppet was and his letter response was wonderful
Jaden Smith wears gender fluid dress to high school prom with Hunger Games actress
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination
Migrants in Kos: Photos show real tragedy after Brits abroad complain of 'awkward' holidays
British tourists complain that impoverished boat migrants are making holidays 'awkward' in Kos
Michael Gove determined to scrap the Human Rights Act – even if Scotland retains it
Threat to scrap Human Rights Act could see UK follow Nazi example, warns UN official
Why this year's general election was the most unfair in Britain's history
£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you inspired to bring new a...
£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company are a world leadin...
£9 - £15 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This company are seeking excellent indi...