Licence fee is 'suffocating' the BBC says Jacob Rees-Mogg
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He will give evidence this afternoon to the House of Lords’ communications and digital committee. The peers are taking evidence on the future of BBC funding.
Mr Neil worked for the national broadcaster for 25 years, fronting a number of iconic politics programmes for the corporation.
He became one of the country’s most recognised and respected journalists, known for his no-nonsense approach to interviewing political leaders in the run-ups to general elections and during party leadership contests.
But since being forced out from the BBC in 2020, he has launched a series of scathing attacks on the corporation.
Earlier this year he called for the £159 a year BBC licence fee to be ditched.
“The licence fee is an asset because it’s guaranteed money but it comes with a price,” he told The Times.
The 72-year-old added it was “hard to use the licence fee to pay huge salaries”.
The BBC has faced severe backlash over the salaries of its highest-paid stars.
Figures released last July showed Gary Linker is the highest paid star, with a salary between £1,360,000 and £1,364,999 a year for hosting Match of the Day.
Radio 2’s Zoe Ball has an annual salary of up to £1,134,999, and News as Ten presenter earns up to £429,999.
Instead, Mr Neil argued for a hybrid system in which programming the “market doesn’t do” including news and current affairs would be funded by a small fee but all other programming would be paid for by a subscription model.
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The Lords committee launched its investigation into the future of BBC funding after Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries announced in January her intention to scrap the licence fee from 2027.
A long-term critic of the licence fee, Ms Dorries suggested the next Royal Charter outlining the BBC’s terms of operation should include a new funding model.
After freezing the cost of the fee for the next two years, she said the licence fee should be abandoned.
She said: “This licence fee announcement will be the last.
“The days of the elderly being threatened with prison sentences and bailiffs knocking on doors, are over.
“Time now to discuss and debate new ways of funding, supporting and selling great British content.”
A formal consultation will be launched by the Government later this year.
A BBC spokesperson said: “We actively look forward to the national debate on the next Charter and, of course, all options should be considered.
“The BBC is owned by the public and their voice must be heard when it comes to determining the BBC’s future.”
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