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Watch: Russell T Davies’ prophetic warning about Tory plan to scrap BBC licence fee

17 Jan 2022 4 minutes Read
Russell T Davies speaking to a Radio Times audience.

The Doctor Who screenwriter Russell T Davies issued a prophetic warning about the UK Government’s plan to scrap the licence fee.

The renowned Welsh dramatist gave a powerful speech to a Radio Times audience back in 2019 in which he said that he feared that the “battle has been lost” to stop the public broadcaster from being forced to become a subscription service.

A video of the speech has re-emerged on social media after UK Government’s Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries announced yesterday that the licence fee will be frozen for the next few years and scrapped in 2027. She said that the next announcement about the BBC licence fee “will be the last”.

In his speech Russell T Davies, who also wrote the hit Channel 4 series, It’s a Sin, branded the move to turn the BBC into a subscription service a “disgrace”.

He also argued that with subscribers to the HBO broadcaster in the USA pay roughly the same as the licence fee but get much less than what the BBC provides in return.

Russell T Davies said: “We are heading towards what the government wants, and what is going to happen because I honestly think this battle has been lost, is we’re heading towards some sort of subscriber service, and where the mistake then is made is that everyone, and this was in the Radio Times letter page, when you started this debate.

“And there were people on that letter’s page saying ‘why don’t we have a subscriber service like HBO? Like HBO one of the finest broadcasters in the world. I will pay my subscription fee. I will join in with HBO. That is what I’ll get’.

“People in this country have no idea what HBO is or what it means, and I’ve spent the past few days going through the website.

“On a week on HBO you’ve got 7 channels, HBO, HBO 2, HBO Signature, HBO Family, HBO Comedy, HBO Zone, HBO Latino. Doesn’t that sound marvellous? You pay for that $15 a month, which is a $180 a year, which equals like a £118, which is cheaper than the licence fee. You think that’s brilliant.

“What you get is no news, no news, no voice, no soap opera, no weather, nothing that, no radio stations, Radio 1, Radio 2, Radio 4, nothing like that. All you get are those 7 channels.

‘Not a very good film’ 

He added: “This is what you’re getting this week, and this is in October so it’s like primetime. You get, on a Saturday, you get a two-hour film, which you might have seen already, called Focus. Not a very good film. Fourteen minutes of boxing. Fourteen minutes of boxing. On a Sunday night, on a Sunday night that’s good, you get two and a half hours of original programmes, including The Leftovers, which is a great drama.

“Monday night, nothing, nothing new at all. On Tuesday night, nothing, nothing new at all. No new programmes, no news broadcasts, no magazine programmes, no Phil and Holly.

“This is what I’m saying. You pay a full subscription fee, which is practically the price of a licence fee. You get nothing. People in this country say ‘we should have a subscriber service like HBO because it’s the finest broadcaster in the world’. It gives you nothing. Alright you get Game of Thrones. You get that for 10 weeks of the year. One hour a week, 10 weeks of the year. That’s what you get.

“We are being led to towards a subscribers service which you are being told is marvellous, and it’s a lie. It gives you a couple of hours of good drama a week and nothing else, and that in 10 years time is what they will demand what the BBC becomes, and it is a disgrace”.


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Phil
Phil
3 months ago

The ‘no Phil and Holly’ bit sounds quite appealing…..

Dewi Williams
Dewi Williams
3 months ago

Be warned where this is taking us and at the same time be reminded that it is being orchestrated by a government imbued with known corrupt commercial practices. Any form of “state ownership” is anathema to these scoundrels, and apart from being used as a diversionary tactic from Partygate, this is the true reason behind this action. Consider this, are we eventually witnessing a prelude to similar action being taken against the “state owned” NHS?. The present action against the BBC is conveniently part of this diversionary tactic ridiculously entitled “Operation Red Meat.” What sort of mentally disturbed capacities have… Read more »

Mike
Mike
3 months ago

Russell T Davies has hit the nail firmly on the head. We are being led down the garden path by a philistine Conservative government pursuing a dogmatic agenda of marketising and short term profiteering leaving the nation with no choice but subscription TV that fails to supply the quality, diversity and choice we get from the BBC. Political failings, which have been all to evident over recent years, are the prime motivation why the likes of Nadine Dorries and the cronies that surround a failed government are so against our independent public broadcaster. Far from open debate and inspection they… Read more »

Phil
Phil
3 months ago
Reply to  Mike

Independent public broadcaster? I think not.

Dewi Williams
Dewi Williams
3 months ago
Reply to  Phil

Perhaps what Mike is getting at is that the BBC is independent in the sense that they are not allowing this draconian right way administration to take total control of its freedom of independence to think for itself and take a direction which does not correspond with right wing indoctrination. Any criticism from this broadcaster being directed at this government, no matter how rational or reasonable, is nearly always seen as “left wing.” motivated. It is little wonder then that being subjected to this paranoia they are anxious to eliminate any such threat of opposition being posed by the BBC.… Read more »

Phil
Phil
3 months ago
Reply to  Dewi Williams

Maybe you’re right, but it’s the constant woke agenda, the pandering to minorities and the constant indoctrination that their way of thinking is correct and anyone who disagrees is totally wrong which I find unbearable.

Dewi Williams
Dewi Williams
3 months ago
Reply to  Phil

I can’t say I’m entirely happy with the woke agenda or the growing disproportion representation of minorities in the nation’s broadcasting media myself. However, I’m prepared to tolerate it. Hopefully, in the course of time this will be proportionately adjusted. I don’t think most people are being indoctrinated. They see it for what it is. In any case why single out the BBC when all competing “commercial” channels are at it as well.

Phil
Phil
3 months ago
Reply to  Dewi Williams

I suppose I single them out because I have to pay them to have them lecture me.

Andrew
Andrew
3 months ago

Winter is coming.

Stephen Owen
Stephen Owen
3 months ago

Sadly the BBC has been anti-Welsh over the years and there is no point complaining as it seems to be unacceptable

Last edited 3 months ago by Stephen Owen
Malcolm rj
Malcolm rj
3 months ago
Reply to  Stephen Owen

I could agree more with you Steve the English BBC has been against Wales for many years and when I lived and worked in England you would not know that Wales existed how can you call it the BBC it should be called the English broadcasting network

Stuart Cane
Stuart Cane
3 months ago

Ready for the “fast track lane” for friends of the Tories to bid to provide news and political coverage…

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