By Isha Sesay • 16 February 2020 • 11:33
REPORTS are circulating that Boris Johnson is preparing a new onslaught on the BBC with a threat to scrap the licence fee, replacing it with a ‘more favourable’ subscription service.
A senior source has spoken with the Sunday Times, citing that the PM is considering a serious reform of the BBC, not only ending the controversial fee but also scrapping a number of BBC television channels, scaling back their website and limiting employees high paid salaries.
The prime minister’s aides are also focusing their attention on highly paid BBC stars who have made huge sums of money from outside work, suggesting that they should instead donate the payments to charity.
The bold move could force the broadcaster to sell off most of its radio stations in a “massive pruning back” of activities, as reported by the senior source, further escalating tensions between No 10 and the corporation, with many Tories still angry at its coverage of last year’s general election.
The government is already studying proposals to decriminalise non-payment of the licence fee and many ministers have suggested that it could be abolished altogether when the BBC’s charter comes up for renewal in 2027.
The senior aide stated that No 10 are not ‘bluffing on the licence fee’ and that it should be replaced with a subscription model.
They are quoted saying: “They’ve got hundreds of radio stations, they’ve got all these TV stations and a massive website. The whole thing needs massive pruning back.” They added: “The PM is firmly of the view that there needs to be serious reform. He is really strident on this.”
The warning comes after BBC chairman, Sir David Clementi, strongly defended the licence fee system, claiming that putting the broadcaster behind a paywall would undermine its ability to ‘bring the country together’.
As Euro Weekly News understands, a No 10 spokesperson declined to comment on the remarks.
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