Don Foster MP*
NEWS AND MEDIA PAGES


TOP-UP OF LICENCE FEE MUST BE LAST RESORT

Commenting on the publication of the second phase of Ofcom's consultation on public service television, which proposes that an enhanced licence fee could be shared among broadcasters, Don said:

Main Image"Ofcom's decision to drop their proposal for direct top-slicing of the licence fee is welcome, but a 'top-up' to fund other public service broadcaster should be a last resort.

"Ofcom should have gone further on the untenable position of the BBC Governors and the urgent need for Government leadership on digital switchover.

"While the discussion on BBC Worldwide's assets is welcome, the BBC must invest at least 50% of any sale profits into the drive for switchover."

ENDS

Notes to Editors

1. In the first phase of Ofcom's public service television review, they
proposed that Channel 4 might receive a share of the licence fee (without suggesting that the fee might be 'enhanced').

Proposition 8
Channel 4 will need to overcome increasing financial pressure if its contribution to public service broadcasting is to be realistic in a digital world. It must become more efficient and help itself as a starting point. If necessary, it should consider a range of other options, including new commercial initiatives, a share of funding which is bid for, a new source of direct funding or a share of the licence fee. In considering these options, Channel 4's distinctive role should be maintained.

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2. In today's publication, Ofcom have argued that an 'enhanced TV
licence fee could be shared between the BBC and other organisations' by 'a division of licence fee income' (p.70, Ofcom review of public service television, Phase II). The enhancement or 'top-up' of the licence fee would at least prevent an immediate reduction in the BBC's revenue, and could, for example, be hypothecated. However, it could still offer serious problems for the long-term funding of the BBC and other public service broadcasters.

3. The Liberal Democrat Conference endorsed a motion last week for a
'Strong, Independent and Well-Financed BBC'. Today's press release by Ofcom argues that a 'strong, independent, fully-funded and public service focused BBC' will be of increasing importance.

The Liberal Democrats have also argued in their submission to the DCMS Charter Renewal Consultation for the continuation of the licence fee, a 10 year charter, the necessity of competition between public service broadcasters and the avoidance of a BBC monopoly, the maintenance of Channel 4 as a not-for-profit company and the need to consider further funding for public service broadcasters in light of declining value of analogue spectrum.

All these policies have been proposed in today's Ofcom report.

This article published: 30/09/2023

Published by Bath Liberal Democrats, 31 James St West, Bath, BA1 2BT. Printed and hosted by JPC Infonet, 2 St Georges Works, Trowbridge, Wiltshire, BA14 8AA. Your Privacy._blank

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