Saturday, 26 Sep 2020

Brexiteer Rupert Lowe makes symbolic donation to Defund BBC campaign – ‘Money well spent’

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I’m so fed up with the BBC’s sneering arrogance

Rupert Lowe

The ex-Southampton FC chairman, who took a swipe at the corporation’s “arrogance”, announced his decision on social media on the same day the BBC confirmed standards including Rule Britannia and Land of Hope and Glory will be sung at the Last Night of the Proms following a public backlash. Mr Lowe, who was Brexit Party MEP for the West Midlands Constituency from 2019 until the UK quit the EU on January 31, tweeted: “I’m so fed up with the BBC’s sneering arrogance, I’ve decided to donate the cost of a licence fee to @DefundBBC (50p spare!)”

In relation to the campaign, and associated online petition, which seeks to decriminalise non-payment of the annual £157.50 licence fee, Mr Lowe added: “Their work is well worth supporting, however you can.

“The money will be far better spent with them.

“Retweet this if you think we should Defund the BBC!”

Mr Lowe is not the only prominent Brexiteer to back the idea of scrapping the licence fee.

On August 25, Nigel Farage, leader of the Brexit Party, reacted to actor Laurence Fox’s tweet calling for people to withhold licence fees in the wake of the row over plans to shelve Rule Britannia because of its perceived association with colonialism.

Mr Farage tweeted: “The only thing that needs cancelling is the BBC itself.”

The petition, created on June 29, 2019, had raised £54,998 as of 3.30pm today towards its target of £100,000.

The gofundme page states: “Our aim is simple – we want to decriminalise non-payment of the TV licence fee and reduce the BBC Charter’s scope to cover BBC content only.

“We believe that this is not only in the people’s interests – finally, they will be free to enjoy the television they wish, without the threat of criminalisation – but the BBC’s interests too.

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“We intend to build our movement in a constructive way, making the inarguable, modern case for moving on from the current Licence Fee, while informing people how they can legally cancel their Licence.

“Change won’t happen unless it has to. It’s time to Defund the BBC.”

The petition page highlights the high salaries paid to some BBC presenters, including Match of the Day host Gary Lineker, believed to earn in the region of £1.75million a year.

The corporation has found itself embroiled in controversy this year, not least over the decision to begin charging people over the age of 75 for licences – which prompted criticism from among others Prime Minister Boris Johnson himself.

Speaking in July, Mr Johnson’s official spokesman said: “We recognise the value of free TV licences for over-75s and believe that they should be funded by the BBC.”

Mr Johnson was also pressed on the subject in the Commons today by Tory MP Andrew Lewer.

Mr Lewer, MP for Northampton South, said: “When I buy a copy of the Mirror, the Mail or The Telegraph, I’m not obliged to buy a copy of the Guardian.

“And yet when I want to watch live TV on Sky or Amazon Prime or ITV, I am forced to pay for the BBC.

“Does the Prime Minister believe that this is a sustainable situation in the medium or longer term?”

The Prime Minister said: “He makes an interesting point of view shared I’m sure by many people in this country.

“But my Right Honourable friend the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport will be setting out a roadmap shortly for reform of the BBC and addressing the very issue that he mentions.”

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