Last month it was reported that the government wanted to ditch the licence fee in favour of a subscription model.
An unnamed government source mooted the fee’s expiry to The Sunday Times as a public consultation on whether non-payment of it should remain a criminal offence got underway. However, the dissolution of the fee was later described as “politically impossible” by culture minister John Whittingdale.
“It is just not possible to make the BBC a voluntary subscription service for as long as it is broadcast on Freeview. We are some way off being able to switch off Freeview and put it all online,” Whittingdale said
Today PA quotes Lord Hall as saying he believes the Beeb’s current funding model does have a future – even if the broadcaster is no longer the nation’s ‘Auntie’.
“People say things like ‘What’s the point of the BBC when you’ve got the streamers?’ The BBC is not Netflix, it really isn’t … Netflix don’t do sport, they don’t do news, they don’t do a whole raft of things.” – Tony Hall
The licence fee model means that “you’ve got to give something to everybody. I think that is a fantastic creative challenge”, he told a conference.
“I hope we are developing and continuing to develop a much warmer relationship with the British public which is less the ‘Auntie’ of two or three decades ago and much more something which is interwoven in people’s lives. The licence fee, I think, beyond 2027 will still matter and will still be phenomenally important for the BBC.” – Tony Hall
Speaking at the Media and Telecoms 2020 and Beyond conference, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden accused the BBC of missing or being slow to pick up on new trends.
However, Hall hit back the BBC had “constantly reformed itself” from radio, to television, 24-hour news, online, as well as iPlayer and BBC Sounds, and that it would not be stopping there.
“Constant reform is what the BBC is about,” Hall said before going on to note that the BBC is still “the most trusted news source”.
But he added: “We should always listen to what people say to us about our impartiality and we should be open to people criticising what we do.”