BBC license fee freeze puts Cardiff’s creative economy at risk says Welsh MP
Freezing the BBC’s license fee and the threat of abolishing it altogether places Cardiff’s creative economy “at risk”, according to a Welsh MP.
Cardiff South and Penarth MP Stephen Doughty was responding to the announcement in the House of Commons that the license fee will remain at £159 until 2024, meaning that the BBC will need to make cuts due to inflation.
Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries had earlier said that the license fee settlement would be the BBC’s last and a new funding model would be found from 2027 onwards. She also said that it needed to “command support from across the UK” rather than “just the London bubble”.
Stephen Doughty however said that he did not recognise the description of the BBC as being London centric.
“My constituents would simply not recognise what she says about the rest of the BBC being some sort of London bubble,” the Labour MP said.
“We have seen a 54% increase in our creative economy locally, with thousands of people employed and the BBC at the heart of that—’Doctor Who’, ‘Casualty’, ‘Shreds’ and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales.
“Every pound invested in our local economy by the BBC generates almost double that in return. Does the Secretary of State accept that what she has suggested today puts that at risk, along with jobs and opportunities in Cardiff including those in deprived communities?”
Nadine Dorries did not respond directly to his question but pointed to the further £7.5 million per annum from the licence fee S4C, which has its HQ in Carmarthen, would receive to support its digital investment.
Earlier, the Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Lucy Powell, had asked what plans there are “for the continuation of distinct broadcasting in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland when there is no licence fee?”
Nadine Dorries said that there were no plans yet for what would follow the license fee but that the I’m was to being a “dialogue” and “debate”.
“I have never mentioned the word ‘subscription’,” she said. “As I have said time and again, we need to start a dialogue about how we fund the BBC in the future.”
The plans for the new licence fee settlement cover a period of six years and will take effect from 1 April 2022 until 31 March 2028.
It means the BBC is expected to receive around £3.7 billion in licence fee funding in 2022 and £23 billion over the duration of the settlement period.
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