Lord Cameron issues passionate defence of the BBC licence fee despite calls to abolish

April 30, 2024
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David Cameron has poured cold water on calls from campaigners to scrap the BBC licence fee.

Speaking at a Lords select committee this afternoon, the Foreign Secretary launched into an impassioned defence of the so-called ‘Telly Tax’, predicting that those hoping for its demise will not succeed for a long time.

Speaking about the BBC global service and its diplomatic purposes, Lord Cameron said there’s a “perfectly good argument” for funding the BBC partly from taxpayers and party from the Government’s coffers.

“I think licence fee payers get something out of the world service; I do when Radio 4 goes off at night and World Service comes on I leap for joy… well I don’t because I’m trying to go to sleep. It’s a brilliant service.”

He went on to opine: “I don’t know what’s going to happen to the licence fee”.

“I’m quite old-fashioned, I think the licence fee works quite well and will continue to work well probably for longer than lots of people think.

“Because actually it’s a universal service, we all use it to a greater or lesser extent.

He poo-pooed the alternatives, saying they could with “lots of disadvantages”.

He concluded: “I’m quite a licence fee fan in an old-fashioned way”.

The Foreign Secretary warned that, whatever the future of the licence fee, the BBC World Service “must go on being funded at this generous level”.

“In this contested, competitive world, there’s a good argument for saying we need more independent and respectable media in this space.”

In December, Rishi Sunak said he welcomed cuts at the BBC, after the Government curbed a higher hike in the cost of the licence fee.

Mr Sunak said: “Going forward … the BBC should be realistic about what it can expect people to pay at a time like this”.

Culture Secretary Lucy Fraser said that a proposed increase to the licence fee would “absolutely” be too much.

Ms Frazer added she was concerned that a “significant rise” in the cost of the levy wold be too much given cost of living pressures.

She added: “We froze the licence fee for two years to help households with their daily payments”.

“That freeze has come to an end and the licence fee is due to rise with inflation but we’re looking at ways to make sure that is sustainable for families across the country.”



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