Following the Licence Fee Freeze and Scrap Plans, High-Profile Figures Rally…


Following the Licence Fee Freeze and Scrap Plans, High-Profile Figures Rally Behind the BBC; BBC And Sources Say Negotiations Aren’t Over Yet.

High-profile personalities rallied around the BBC yesterday, following revelations that the UK government intends to freeze the license fee for two years before abolishing it outright in 2027.

Armando Iannucci, Gary Lineker, Hugh Grant, and Lucy Prebble led the criticism after Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries tweeted a Daily Mail article with the news, along with the message: “The licensing fee announcement will be the last.” The days of old people facing prison sentences are long gone. Now is the time to talk about and debate new ways to fund, support, and market great British content.”

The BBC is currently negotiating the next five years of its current £159.50 ($218) annual charge and has made it clear that anything less than its goal of having the fee rise with inflation will result in significant reductions in content and redundancies.

“There has been similar conjecture before,” a BBC representative said, declining to confirm whether the rumors are real.

After speaking with one individual familiar with the negotiations, Deadline was advised to proceed with caution.

According to this source, the talks are far from over, and Director General Tim Davie’s negotiating team can keep going back to the drawing board for the rest of the year if they are unhappy with the proposed solution.

If the present settlement (an inflationary hike) is still considered as impossible to deal with at that point, the BBC can try to have it carried over for the next five years, or Davie can threaten to retire. When the government tried to take away free license payments from the over-75s in 2010, former DG Mark Thompson took the latter approach, which worked.

“The BBC is under no obligation to accept the deal, and this will continue,” the person said.

“Unacceptable strain”

“Anything less than inflation would put unacceptable pressure on the BBC finances after years of austerity,” a BBC spokesman said.

The BBC has repeatedly said that extreme inflation is driving up programming expenses, particularly in scripted and high-end documentaries, with head Richard Sharp recently noting that the cost of some of the BBC’s most popular programs has doubled, while drama prices have risen by roughly 35 percent.

A below-inflation increase followed by the ultimate abolition of the license fee would result in less original and high-budget programming, posing an existential threat to the BBC in the future.

According to multiple sources, the statement was made at a time when Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s support ratings were at an all-time low, owing to an inquiry into parties that occurred at his house and office in 10 Downing Street.

The BBC’s coverage of the controversy is alleged to have enraged the Prime Minister and his advisers.

The BBC’s advocates argue that people are unaware of how much is included in their licensing fee, which is roughly the same as an annual Netflix subscription but includes various radio and TV channels with content from all genres, as well as a plethora of educational and children’s programs.

Alternatives, such as a subscription or an advertiser-funded BBC, would be problematic, while paying the BBC through general taxation, such as income tax, raises fears that the government may get even more involved.

“Yes, the BBC provides the greatest in news, sport, drama, music, children’s programming, science, history, entertainment, current events, and Sir David blasted Attenborough….but what has the BBC ever done for us?” Lineker, the host of BBC1’s Match of the Day, retweeted a popular graphic displaying all of the BBC’s services, which cost the public 43p per day apiece.

Iannucci, the director of The Death of Stalin and The Personal History of David Copperfield, targeted the administration, saying, “First you come for Channel 4 because you don’t like its reporting of events.” You’ve come after the BBC because you don’t like how it covers events. Have you ever thought perhaps the problem is the events themselves?”

Grant, who has long been an outspoken supporter of the BBC and starred in 2018’s A Very English Scandal, called the government “insecure, spittle-flecked nut jobs.”

“Support the BBC even when it’s being targeted as a distraction from this ugly meringue of a government,” Prebble told the general people.

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