BBC boss: the licence fee is here to stay

Director-general Tony Hall says he believes that the licence fee charge will last even beyond the end of 2027 when the next BBC charter expires

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Licence fee payers will still be forking out for BBC services beyond 2028 when the Corporation’s next charter expires, director general Tony Hall has predicted.

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Speaking at the Voice of the Listener and Viewer Conference in London on Wednesday, the BBC’s editor-in-chief said he believes that the charge will last beyond the next charter period which expires on 31st December 2027.

Under the terms agreed with the Government this summer, viewers will pay the £145.50 charge which will rise over the next 11 years in line with inflation.

And Hall told delegates at the VLV conference that he felt the licence fee had a life beyond this.

“The licence fee is secure for the next 11 years,” he said. “That was a very important battle to have won. I don’t think that’s going to fall apart, that people are suddenly going to want subscription. I think the licence fee has got 11 years in it, I think it’s got beyond that. I think it’s got another life.” 

Hall said that the Corporation still needed to continue to argue its case with the public, despite securing its future until the end of 2027.

“We have got to keep arguing for it and arguing for the good value you get from it. When I meet people from outside this country they can’t believe the value you get for £145.50 per household.

“I want us to look beyond where we are with charter now and think very hard about the next 11 years.

“One of the things I have said to my team… is we have just got to keep being out there, talking about what we believe in. I say campaign mode. We shouldn’t say ‘Ok, the charter is done and dusted’ and wake up … in ten years’ time and 11 years’ time and end up with whatever we get.”

Hall’s confidence about the future of BBC funding is likely to be welcomed by BBC staff. But it also flies in the face of some expert opinion which suggests that, with the advent of streaming services and growth of viewing on tablets and other digital devices, the idea of a TV licence fee will be redundant within the next 11 years.

Some ideas being suggested for funding the BBC include a household tax in which households pay a levy for the Corporation’s services, perhaps with their council tax bills. This funding model is used in Germany.

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Former culture secretary John Whittingdale was a keen supporter of imposing a household levy. But he is understood to have been over-ruled by Number 10 which blocked it from the final deal that was agreed with the BBC in the summer.