According to the Mail on Sunday, the British government will limit the BBC’s financing by forcing a two-year freeze on the charge that individuals pay to watch the broadcaster.
The Future of the Taxpayer-Funded Licensing System The BBC is a constant source of political dispute, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s cabinet recently arguing that its budget needs to be overhauled.
With inflation forecast to hit a 30-year high of 6% or more in April, keeping the licence cost at its current 159 pounds ($217.40) would bring some respite to customers who are struggling to keep up with growing living costs.
However, it would be a significant financial hit to the BBC as it seeks to compete with privately funded news sites and subscription-based entertainment streaming businesses such as Netflix and others.
The government began negotiations in November to determine how much the TV licence would cost as part of a five-year funding agreement planned to begin in April 2022.
When questioned about the Mail on Sunday claim, the Department of Digital, Media, Culture, and Sport declined to comment.
Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries tweeted a link to the Mail on Sunday report, stating that the licence fee settlement would be the last of its kind.
On Twitter, she stated, “Now is the time to discuss and debate new ways of funding, supporting, and selling great British material.”
Dorries’ tweet and the Mail on Sunday report elicited no response from the BBC.
According to the opposition Labour Party, the funding drop was made for political reasons.
“The Prime Minister and the Cultural Secretary appear hell-bent on assaulting this great British institution because they don’t like its journalism,” Labour legislator and culture policy head Lucy Powell said.
UK political parties frequently criticise the BBC’s news coverage. Its coverage of Brexit issues, which are fundamental to Johnson’s government, has long been viewed as too harsh by pro-Brexit voters.
One Conservative legislator claimed last week that BBC coverage of Johnson’s Downing Street house during the coronavirus lockdowns amounted to a “coup attempt” against the prime minister.