The extent of Britain’s Conservative government’s agenda on the BBC has become clear with a plan to replace the £154.50 Licence Fee with a subscription.
Under plans listed in The Sunday Times the broadcaster could also face a dramatic downsizing and be forced to sell off most of its radio stations.
The Sunday Times quoted senior aide as saying “We are not bluffing on the licence fee. We are having a consultation and we will whack it. It has to be a subscription model. They’ve got hundreds of radio stations, they’ve got all these TV stations and a massive website. The whole thing needs massive pruning back.”
The paper says the BBC would be forced to reduce its number of television channels and sell of the majority of its national and local radio stations. Such a move could send shockwaves through the industry. The main competitors to the BBC’s dedicated children’s channels are largely US-owned, while the big commercial radio networks have all but pulled out of local content outside of breakfast.
The BBC website would be scaled back, but there would be additional funding for BBC World Service.
The BBC has launched an outspoken defence of the licence fee model, arguing that any switch would lead to a loss of earnings and with it popular shows.
But the government will need to make a convincing case for the BBC’s downsizing. The broadcaster currently hold a 90% approval rating from the public.