Greg Dyke, who was forced to resign in 2004 over the corporation’s coverage of the Hutton Report on Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction, said the pandemic would silence MPs who had demanded wholesale reform earlier in the year.
He told The Yorkshire Post: “The Government clearly had its knives out for the BBC at the beginning of the year and what they have now discovered is that it’s to the BBC that people turn at times of crisis, as they always have done.
“I think those in Government who wanted a fight will now see the value of a national broadcaster and put the knives away.”
But he said that although the corporation’s survival was not in question, the licence fee was not guaranteed. “Whether it will survive intact remains to be seen,” Mr Dyke said.
Hinting that its finance might in future come from general public funds – as in some other countries – rather than from a specific tax, he said: “You can have other means of funding – but not commercial means.”
The licence fee has been mired in controversy since the BBC decided to end the practice of issuing free licences to viewers over 75. The current director-general, Lord Hall, confirmed last weekend that the scheme would end on August 1, having been delayed at the start of the quarantine.
Editor’s note: first and foremost - and rarely have I written down these words with more sincerity - I hope this finds you well.
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Sincerely. Thank you.
James Mitchinson, Editor