More for subscription says BBC boss


Published: Sunday 21st June 2015 by The News Editor

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BBC director-general Tony Hall has signalled viewers will have to pay more should a subscription model replace the licence fee.

The crossbench peer said everybody paying something results in producing “great services for a lot less” than if a subscription model or other funding method was used.

He s aid the £145.50 charge still has another 10 years of life, claiming the corporation’s audience believes the case for the fee has strengthened.

Speaking on BBC1’s the Andrew Marr Show, L ord Hall also said a “household tax” – as proposed by the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee – is a “very interesting idea”.

He added there is broad agreement for the licence fee to be reformed to ensure “everyone is paying equally for it and I would go along with that”.

Lord Hall said the type of reform is up to the Government to decide and the BBC to debate, adding: “It could be a household tax, I don’t know whether that works or not. We suggested ways of reforming it so whatever way you consume and use BBC services you can pay for it and I think somewhere in there lies a solution.”

The peer said he did not believe the corporation was there to exist as a “market failure” public service broadcaster – adding this view is shared by audiences.

He explained: “Our audiences, when you ask them, actually think that the case for the licence fee as a method of funding the BBC has gone up and has not gone down. That’s really important.

“And they believe in a high quality BBC that’s producing excellent programmes right across a broad range of genres.”

Told the licence fee is regressive and anachronistic, Lord Hall said: “(C ulture Secretary John Whittingdale’s) own report published before the election said far from the licence fee being anachronistic it’s actually got 10 years of life left in it at least.”

He went on: “Beyond that Andrew, you and I sitting here 10 years ago had no idea what an iPad was, had no idea about Netflix, had no idea about Spotify – I’ll go along with the argument that’s it got 10 years life in it.

“And then it went on to say what the licence fee has got to do is what the licence fee has continually done since it was first invented, which is to adapt to modernise, to change because – and this is the principle – by everybody paying something we all get great services for a lot less than if you went down a subscription model or some other route.”

On management pay-offs, Mr Marr said the BBC wants a £125,000 cap while the Government was aiming for £95,000.

Lord Hall said: “When I came in I was not at all happy with the level of payouts people were getting at the BBC.

“I put a cap on that at £150,000 in the first couple of months and that must continue.

“If the Government reform, then we will have to think exactly about how we cap our pay-offs lower too.”

He said changes at the corporation will have reduced costs by £1.5. billion by the end of 2016 – 40% of its cost base.

Published: Sunday 21st June 2015 by The News Editor

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