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Sunday, 22 February 2015

BBC Told to Cut Waste or Lose TV Licence Fee

The BBC has been given an ultimatum by MPs: deliver better value or risk losing the TV licence fee.

Today's Sunday Express exclusive follows the damning revelation that the BBC spent more than £34m of licence fee payers' money on taxis over the past three years.

Conor Burns, Tory MP for Bournemouth West and member of the influential House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, is quoted as saying that the BBC "has failed in its duty to ensure the licence fee is well spent".

In a letter to Culture Secretary Sajid Javid, Mr Burns added: "I trust that as the process of Charter Review moves forward you will put transparency alongside excellence in programming at the very core of our expectations of the BBC."

The Committee is due to publish a long awaited report, which will make recommendations about the terms of the BBC's Charter renewal in 2016.

Under current arrangements the BBC is funded by the £145.50 TV licence fee. In 2013-14 the BBC, which is legally responsible for the administration and enforcement of the TV licence, collected £3.7bn of licence fee revenue.

Mr Burns' letter continued: "I was encouraged when, in 2010, the BBC Trust agreed that the National Audit Office, which checks the accounts of all government departments, public agencies and a number of other organisations, would have full access to the BBC’s accounts to ensure that it is providing value for money.

"However, the head of the NAO, Sir Amyas Morse, recently reported to Parliament that the BBC often refuses to provide or delays the provision of evidence that would allow the NAO to assess its spending on behalf of taxpayers.

"I find this unacceptable and I know from my constituents that it damages the level of trust that we, the public, have in the corporation."

According to the Sunday Express article, several high profile Tory MPs are aligning their position with that of Mr Burns.

One such MP, Philip Davies, who represents the good people of Shipley and also sits on the Culture Select Committee, said: "If the BBC wants to have the benefits of guaranteed licence fee income every year then that must come with total transparency as to how the money is spent. If they don’t want transparency then they must abandon the licence fee and earn their own money. They can’t have it both ways."

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said he would like to see the BBC adopt the same level of transparency as Whitehall departments and town halls.

According to Mr Pickles: "It will help keep costs down and protect the public's money. Such spending discipline will also ensure more money can be diverted to home-grown programming, supporting high-quality journalism not spendthrift executive management. The BBC top brass seem very shy about this. What have they got to hide?"

Andrew Allison, of the Freedom Association’s Axe The Tax campaign, said: "As the BBC is funded by a tax on all households who watch television, it should be open and transparent with the public on how it spends its income.

"If it doesn’t want that level of public scrutiny, then it should get its income through subscription or advertising, like every other broadcaster."

The Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee's report on the future of the BBC is due for release on Thursday. It is expected to recommend the abolition of the BBC Trust.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

MP's threatening to axe the BBC's licence fee is nothing more than a public appeasement stunt designed to make the government look as though they going to bring the BBC into line, when in reality it's all just an illusion.

Politicians will NEVER axe the BBC licence fee as they are all in bed with each other.

We are deluding ourselves to think otherwise. This is all nothing more than smoke and mirrors.