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Tue, 20 October 2020

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Boris Johnson hints that BBC licence fee could be scrapped if Tories win general election

Boris Johnson hints that BBC licence fee could be scrapped if Tories win general election
2 min read

Boris Johnson has hinted that the BBC licence fee could be scrapped if the Conservatives win the general election.


The Prime Minister said he was "looking at " whether the the current method for funding the corporation should continue in the future.

Anyone who owns a colour television currently has to pay £154.50 a year in order to watch the BBC.

But speaking at a campaign event in County Durham, Mr Johnson said: "You have to ask yourself if that kind of approach to funding a TV media organisation still makes sense in the long term, given the way other organisations manage to fund themselves.

"How long can you justify a system whereby everybody who has a TV has to pay to fund a particular set of TV and radio channels?"

The Tory leader also repeated his view that the BBC should "cough up" to fund free TV licenses for the over-75s - a perk which used to be the responsibility of the Government.

Earlier this year, the BBC said it could no longer afford the £745m bill to fund the free TV licenses without cutting services.

Mr Johnson said: “I certainly think that the BBC should cough up and pay for the licenses for the over 75s as they promised to do. 

“But, at this stage, we are not planning on getting rid of all license fees, though I'm certainly looking at it.”

Hitting back at the Tory leader's comments, Shadow Culture Secretary Tom Watson said: "This is a pathetic attempt by Boris Johnson to distract from his refusal to even look at the picture of a 4 year old boy forced to sleep on a hospital floor.

“We already know that Boris Johnson is a danger to our NHS. His comments today reveal that he will threaten the very existence of another of Britain’s great institutions, the BBC, by scrapping its funding mechanism.

"This is on top of the cruel decision to strip over 75s of their free TV licences."

Mr Johnson also questioned the future of the TV licence fee in 2015.

Speaking on LBC Radio, the then Mayor of London said: “I can’t see how [the license fee] can go on forever.”

He added: “I was struck the other day that the parliamentary committee said the other day the licence fee should be prolonged for another ten years – that seems to me to be too long not to be taking account of the very rapid changes."

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