Former Welsh Secretary suggests cut to licence fee would help the BBC
A former Welsh Secretary has suggested that a cut to the licence fee would help the BBC.
Alun Cairns, the Conservative MP for the Vale of Glamorgan, told House of Commons that a reduction in the public broadcaster’s budget could be a way of “facilitating innovation”.
The BBC has recently reported on calls for an investigation into how a Welsh company that hired Alun Cairns as a senior paid advisor secured a UK government contract.
This follows a series of reports by Nation.Cymru on the former Welsh Secretary’s second jobs.
During a debate in the House of Commons, Alun Cairns asked: “What plans she has for the future of the BBC licence fee?”
The Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Nadine Dorries, replied: “The Government have committed to maintaining the licence fee funding model for the duration of the charter period. Ahead of the next charter review process, we will undertake a detailed look at the TV licence model to ensure that it is fit for the future.”
Cairns said: “I warmly welcome the encouraging comments made by the Secretary of State, publicly and in the Chamber, on the BBC. There is the potential to cut or at least freeze the licence fee. It raises over £3.5 billion a year, much of which is used to create quality broadcasts.
“However, significant sums are used to squeeze out competition from the independent sector.
“This is the most regressive form of taxation, akin to the poll tax, so does she agree that a freeze or a cut would be not only a welcome boost to hard-pressed families, but a way of facilitating innovation within the BBC and encouraging competition from outside, creating a much more dynamic broadcast provision?”
‘Value for money’
Dorries replied: “I thank my right hon. Friend for his question. My priority is to secure a settlement that delivers value for money for those hard-pressed constituents and for the licence fee payer, while making sure that the BBC can continue to provide those very high-quality services to which he just referred.
“I have been having constructive discussions with the BBC and I believe that we are close to reaching an agreement. I hope he understands that I am unable to comment further while negotiations are taking place and are ongoing.”
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