Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

Downing Street 'vows to abolish BBC licence fee'

‘The whole thing needs a massive pruning back,’ says senior aide to PM

Peter Stubley
Sunday 16 February 2020 01:37 GMT
Former BBC head warns of consequences of change to licence fee

Downing Street is planing to scrap the BBC licence fee and replace it with a Netflix-style subscription model, according to reports.

Senior aides to the prime minister allegedly told the Sunday Times that the corporation would be forced to sell off most of its radio stations and scale back its website.

The plans also include reducing the number of BBC TV channels and banning the broadcaster’s stars from having “second jobs”, it is claimed.

“We are not bluffing on the licence fee,” the source was reported as saying. “It has to be a subscription model.

“They’ve got hundreds of radio stations, they’ve got all these TV stations and a massive website. The whole thing needs a massive pruning back.”

Before the general election, Boris Johnson admitted he was ”looking at” abolishing the licence fee.

He was also said to be considering the decriminalisation of non-payment of the annual charge.

The current royal charter – which sets out the governance of the BBC – runs until December 2027.

Earlier this week the BBC chairman Sir David Clementi warned the prime minister that attacks on the corporation will result in a “weakened United Kingdom” and urging the government “not to rush to short-term decisions”.

It comes after Downing Street refused to appear on BBC Radio 4‘s Today programme due to what they believe is its pro-Remain bias.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in