The Conservatives have no plans to replace the licence fee according to George Osborne.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer told Radio Times magazine that he does not expect the way the BBC is funded to change if his party form the next government, although added that he would “have to look at all the options” when the current deal runs out in 2017.
When asked whether the licence fee has a long-term future, Osborne replied, “We certainly don’t plan to replace it. But we need to look at all the options.”
In October 2010, Osborne froze the licence fee for six years, amounting to a 16% real terms cut in BBC funding.
“We had to move quite quickly back then because we had to get a spending plan done,” he said of the freeze. “This time, I think we’d take a longer view.”
Ed Miliband has already pledged to Radio Times that a Labour government would maintain the licence fee, saying “I am a supporter of the BBC and I think it should be renewed.”
Chancellor Osborne also says in this week’s issue that he’s worried the BBC is in danger of becoming “too mono-culture”.
He explained: “The BBC needs to be the national broadcaster without being a monopoly broadcaster. I think one of the things the BBC has to look out for is not suffocating local news [from other outlets] and making sure they reflect the diversity of opinion in our country and don’t become too mono-culture.”
Read the full interview with George Osborne in this week’s edition of Radio Times, available in the shops and from Apple newsstand from Tuesday 14th April.