TV Licence fee threatened as BBC faces ‘review of everything’

Culture Secretary Sajid JavidCulture Secretary Sajid Javid
Culture Secretary Sajid Javid
ALL aspects of how the BBC is run and paid for will be reviewed when its charter comes up for renewal, the Culture Secretary has said.

Sajid Javid said “everything” would be looked at, including licence fees and governance structures, when negotiations get under way.

Senior Tories have previously called the compulsory annual charge made to viewers out of date and warned it faces the axe but BBC executives insist a subscription system could end up costing more money.

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Mr Javid said plans for the process of renewing the charter, which expires in December 2016, were being worked on.

He told Total Politics: “We will announce plans in due course. That will be a time to look at all aspects of the BBC: governance arrangements, licence fees and so forth. That’s where we plan to look at everything.”

The renewal negotiations will take place on the back of a torrid few years that have seen the corporation lambasted for its handling of the Jimmy Savile scandal, massive executive pay-offs and a Newsnight investigation that led to the late Lord McAlpine being wrongly accused of child abuse.

Conservative John Whittingdale, chairman of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee, reportedly told senior BBC executives earlier this month that he did not believe the licence fee would survive.

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Tory Party chairman Grant Shapps warned the corporationlast year it could lose its exclusive right to the £3.6 billion raised by the licence fee if it failed to tackle what he believes is a culture of secrecy, waste and unbalanced reporting in the organisation.

The Government has frozen the fee at £145.50 for the rest of the charter period.

Mr Javid dismissed calls for Labour to be involved in the process of appointing a new BBC chairman following Lord Patten’s decision to stand down for health reasons.

“I think the approach of every government, when it comes to important public appointments, just as when Labour was in office and made these important appointments, I think it’s important to have a transparent process to look at a broad range of candidates,” he said. “It will be a decision that is ultimately taken by this Government, as it should be.”