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BBC License Fee

July 13, 2015

license fee 2Paul Vallely, in The Church Times (10.vii.16) asked, about the proposal that the BBC, rather than the DWP, should pay the license fees for those over 75: Why doesn’t the Government force energy companies to pay the winter fuel allowance? Or make Stagecoach pay for pensioner bus passes? Or tell Amazon it has to cough up for public libraries? Or force the Sports Council to subside the cost of Manchester United season tickets for the elderly?

The former BBC chairman Sir Chris­topher Bland said it was “the worst form of dodgy Whitehall accounting”, which “rather subtly and unattractively” drew the BBC closer to becoming an arm of government.

A former director general, Lord Birt, said it was a “deeply shocking . . . breach of the BBC’s independence”.

license fee The media commentator Steve Hewlett condemned it as a gangster tactic, which he described as: “Give us the money or the kid gets it.”

Value for money? The idea that ten TV channels, 17 national radio and 40 local radio stations, plus the online news, sport and weather service, is not good value at 40p a day is risible.

The BBC has faults. But it is the envy of the world for its fearless, principled, independent scrutiny of people in power. We fail to stand up and defend it at our national peril.

The move represents a 20% cut.

Joan Bakewell (Radio Times 18-24 July) wrote: There are more than five million people over 75 in the UK. Many of us live alone, far from our families. The old know loneliness and isolation, even depres­sion. The BBC to them is more than entertainment. It’s a lifeline. It’s been there all our long lives and we’re immensely proud of it.

It’s a pillar of British civic life, world class, univer­sally admired, the keeper of the nation’s archive and recorder of its history. In fact, there’s nothing on the planet like it: radio in all its rich variety, including music to suit all tastes and, probably top favourite for us oldies, Radio 4. Television of world-class standard, award-winning drama, concerts, the Proms, sitcoms, quizzes of every kind, gardening, Strictly, The Great British Bake Off all with no intrusive commercials. What a blessing!

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