Want to save BBC3? Then increase the Licence Fee

There is an easy way to stop BBC3 being axed and make drama and iPlayer even better - just up the Licence Fee says Mark Jefferies


The decision to move BBC3 online has divided TV viewers, especially as a lot of the money saved is being ploughed back into BBC1 drama.


Campaigns aiming to rescue the channel have mobilised supporters via social media. Over 190,000 people have so far signed an online petition against BBC director-general Tony Hall’s plans, yet without necessarily outlining an alternative.

But I have a radical idea which would allow BBC3 to carry on, and BBC drama to flourish with plenty still left over.

I think we should up the Licence Fee to £200.

We currently pay £145.50p a year, which I think is an absolute bargain and incredible value for money.

I appreciate that fee is supposed to be fixed until the end of 2016 but these are extraordinary circumstances, and we could at least open a debate or look at my increase suggestions going forward.

The Fee hasn’t gone up much at all in recent years – it was £135.50 in April 2007 before iPlayer was introduced.

Yet during that time, along with the BBC channels, we have all started using iPlayer, many of us on a daily or weekly basis. We are talking about an online service used not just in our homes but on our mobiles and tablets.

This way of watching TV and listening to podcasts and radio is brilliant and we all just take it for granted now.

But I would say iPlayer on its own is worth £50-a-year to most of us, isn’t it?

I appreciate this price hike when money is tight for a lot of people would cause some complaints, and perhaps some would struggle to find what would be an extra £1-a-week for the BBC.

But there is evidence that most would cough up the cash.

Research published last month by Tony Hall suggests viewers would be willing to pay up to £20-a-month for core BBC services, that’s £240 over 12 months.

My proposed rise would be less than this but would still pump hundreds of millions into the Corporation which would mean fewer repeats and more money to spend making iPlayer even bigger and better.

BBC3 could stay put too and there would be lots of cash for the live events we love, and that the BBC do so well, like Glastonbury, the World Cup and Wimbledon.

So instead of complaining, I think those of us who can afford it should be putting our hands in our pockets for the BBC.

About 25,000 people pay the licence fee, so even if my suggestion is a little extreme for some people, a much smaller rise would stop BBC3 needing to be axed and would help well-loved series like Doctor Who and Sherlock to continue.

Others critics argue that the Corporation is too big – but to me it seems as if everything else goes up in price except the BBC.

Mark Jefferies is Showbiz Editor at the Daily Mirror