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Sat, 6 June 2020

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Boris Johnson faces backbench rebellion over plans to scrap BBC licence fee

Boris Johnson faces backbench rebellion over plans to scrap BBC licence fee
2 min read

The Prime Minister is facing a rebellion of backbench Tory MPs over plans to scrap the BBC licence fee.

On Sunday, it was reported that the broadcaster could be forced to switch to a subscription model and strip back its website, TV and radio operations.

But these plans have been criticised by some Conservatives, with former deputy PM Damian Green writing on Twitter: “I hope the Sunday Times story about the BBC is kite-flying. 

“Destroying the BBC wasn’t in our manifesto and would be cultural vandalism. “Vote Tory and close Radio 2”. Really?”

Meanwhile Huw Merriman said: “I’m not sure this vendetta against the BBC is going to end well. 

“No mention of it in our manifesto (where we actually promised to work with BBC to build new partnerships across globe) so I won’t be supporting it.”

And the former chair of the culture select committee Damian Collins wrote: “No surprise that no-one has put their name to this destructive idea. 

“This would smash the BBC and turn it from being a universal broadcaster to one that would just work for its subscribers. 

“The biggest losers would be the UK’s nations and regions,” he added.

Downing Street officials were quoted saying they were “not bluffing” about changing the BBC’s funding model and the broadcaster needed a “massive pruning back”.

It marks the latest stage of increased tensions between the Government and the national broadcaster.

Ministers have been banned from appearing on their flagship morning interview programme 'Today'.

And the Department for Culture, Media and Sport is also leading a consultation on decriminalising non-payment of the licence fee.

But Transport Secretary Grant Shapps warned on Sunday against giving credence to “unattributed comments”.

He added: "Here are the facts we know; the world is changing, we live in a sort-of Netflix world, where people more and more put on the TV when they want to and watch what they want, when they want. So, the BBC has to change."