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It’s time to end the BBC’s government granted privilege


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There is no longer a case for the licence fee

Commenting ahead of the publication of the government’s green paper on the BBC, Ryan Bourne, Head of Public Policy at the Institute of Economic Affairs, said:

“There is simply no longer a case for an all-singing, all-dancing public sector broadcaster whose revenues are guaranteed through a hypothecated tax. Most of the BBC’s content is indistinguishable from its commercial rivals. Whilst some programmes deemed necessary or desirable might be under-provided in a free-market, any limited public sector broadcasting could be delivered on a competitive tender basis that is open to all channels.

“The licence fee in particular is now a complete anachronism. This government granted privilege requires compulsion, distorts the wider media market, and increasingly makes the BBC a self-serving vested interest. Requiring the BBC to raise its own funds would not only put an end to the prosecution of non-payers but would enhance consumer choice and be fairer on other broadcasters and media producers.

“The government should take immediate steps to abolish the licence fee altogether. This would not ‘kill’ the BBC. A BBC placed on a commercial footing and raising its own funds would be well-positioned to compete in an increasingly global media marketplace given its brand, back-catalogue and expertise. Stripping away its privileged position would also de-politicise the BBC, as consumers would have the ability to withdraw their custom, dampening concerns about bias and the BBC’s dominance of the media news market”

Notes to editors:

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