Sunday, 14 Apr 2024

BBC licence fee could increase by £13 next year

Martin Forde criticises the BBC

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BBC licence fee could reportedly increase by £13 next year, with the Government struggling under pressure to cancel the rise The licence fee is due to rise in line with inflation in April 2024 after a two-year freeze, according to the Culture Department’s official policy.

The Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR) this week forecast that the inflation figure used would be 8.2 percent, The Telegraph reported.

This means the BBC licence fee rising from £159 to £172, which would amount to the biggest increase in more than 20 years.

However, there is pressure on the Government ministers to intervene and cancel the inflation-linked increase, which was unveiled as the official policy last year.

On Thursday night, Nadine Dorries, the Tory MP who as culture secretary signed off the freeze until 2024, called for no further increases in the licence fee until changes to BBC funding are considered.

Ms Dorries said: “I am in favour of freezing it until a full review of how the BBC is funded is completed and alternatives explored.”

The OBR is the Government’s official independent forecaster.

On Wednesday, the OBR produced a series of estimates, including on revenues into the Treasury, alongside the Budget.

It forecasted that BBC licence fee revenues will jump from £3.7 billion in 2023 to £4 billion in 2024.

It would be the first time the £4 billion level has been hit. It is an increase of around 30 per cent since 2016, when the licence fee was raising a total of £3.1 billion.

An OBR spokesman said that the inflation forecast figure it had used to calculate the BBC licence fee rise in April 2024 was 8.2 per cent.

The licence fee figures have emerged in the wake of the row over BBC impartiality sparked by football presenter Gary Lineker’s tweets, which saw some Conservative MPs demand the licence fee be scrapped.

Mr Lineker wrote that the Government’s language about its new migration legislation was “not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the 1930s”.

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The remark prompted a backlash that saw him forced to step back for one episode of Match of the Day, but he was reinstated this week after the BBC agreed to review its social media guidance.

A BBC spokesman told The Telegraph: “The Government agreed a six-year licence fee settlement in January 2022 which froze the licence fee for two years, with increases in line with inflation from 2024.

“It is not for the BBC to speculate on what inflation might be and how that might impact the licence fee in future years.

“Ultimately it is for Government to set and confirm the cost of a licence each year. The BBC will continue to focus on what it does best: working to deliver world-class content and value for all its audiences.”

A Culture Department spokesman told the publication: “We agreed to a fair settlement with the BBC that will see the licence fee remain at £159 until 2024 to protect licence fee payers from current inflationary pressures, and then rise in line with inflation until the end of 2027. The exact level of inflation is yet to be confirmed.

“The BBC’s funding model faces major challenges due to changes in the way people consume media, which is why we are working with it to look at ways to ensure it is sustainable in the long-term.”

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