BBC is forced to fund Welsh language programming to ‘reduce licence fee by stealth’, claims David Dimbleby
The BBC has been forced to fund Welsh language programming in order to reduce the licence fee “by stealth”, veteran BBC broadcaster David Dimbleby has claimed in a new book.
The 83-year-old former Question Time presenter said the corporation had been “cajoled” into taking on “unfunded obligations” instead of spending the money on other programmes and staff.
Responsibility for funding the Welsh language television channel S4C began to be transferred from the UK Government to the BBC’s licence fee in 2013.
David Dimbleby writes in a new book Keep Talking seen by the Times newspaper: “No government has yet had the gall overtly to cut the licence fee but it has been continually reduced by stealth.
“There are two ways of achieving this — one is simply not to increase it while inflation erodes its value. The other financial weapon politicians have used to damage the BBC is to place extra, unfunded obligations on it.
“In recent years, the BBC has been cajoled, persuaded or forced to fully fund new national language channels in Wales and Scotland for the minorities who speak Welsh and Gaelic.”
S4C is not a new national language channel, however, having launched 40 years ago from November this year.
“The licence-fee payer in a poor family is now paying for what the government used to fund,” David Dimbleby adds.
The UK Government announced earlier this year that S4C would receive £74.5m annual Licence Fee funding as well as £6.8m from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport.
The UK Government also said that it would award S4C a further £7.5 million per annum from the licence fee to support its digital development, following a five-year funding freeze.
The Culture Secretary in charge of that announcement, Nadine Dorries, however resigned last month, with Michelle Donelan now in post.
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