Society and Culture

IEA Director General to address DUP conference on future of the BBC licence fee


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The Institute of Economic Affairs’s Director General Mark Littlewood will address the Democratic Unionist Party Conference on the main stage this morning, to discuss “Next Generation Broadcasting” alongside Gregory Campbell MP.

The remarks are scheduled to take place at 11.30 AM, Saturday 26th October on the main stage at DUP conference, with specific reference made to the licence fee and the future of the BBC.

Mark Littlewood will say:

“Here in Northern Ireland, a majority (of people) are now subscribed to streaming services, and among these services Netflix has the most viewers – 41% of them – with BBC iPlayer way down on 23%. 

“Choice has exploded. Until 1982, UK TV viewers only had three channels, whereas today we have more than 480 channels– not to mention the countless abundance from other streaming services. 

“Whatever you want to watch, within reason, you can.

“If you don’t want it, don’t pay for it – and the only penalty should be that the channels are switched off on your TV set.

“If our law enforcement system is overstretched, perhaps it would be a good idea to stop punishing people, through the courts, who don’t wish to pay for BBC services.

“Fortunately, there is an alternative. In (the DUP) manifesto at the last election, (the) party was committed to reducing the licence fee or replacing it with a subscription-based model. I’d encourage you to fully embrace the latter option.

“Those who choose to pay could become members of a national broadcasting trust. They could control the governance of the organisation.

“Moving to a subscription model would not only set viewers free, it would set the BBC free too. The current funding model increasingly prevents the BBC from properly competing with broadcasting giants such as Netflix and Amazon Prime.

“What would be good for viewers would be good for our wider economy too.”

Notes to editors:

For media enquiries please contact Emma Revell, Head of Communications: 07931 698 246.

Mark Littlewood is due to address the DUP Conference at 11.30 AM – this time is subject to change.

Earlier this month, the IEA released a new report ‘New Vision: Transforming the BBC into a subscriber-owned mutual’, authored by Professor Philip Booth, which proposes a new ownership model – based on recognisable and popular institutions like The Co-Operative or the National Trust – removing the obligation to purchase a TV licence.

Download ‘New Vision’ here.

The mission of the Institute of Economic Affairs is to improve understanding of the fundamental institutions of a free society by analysing and expounding the role of markets in solving economic and social problems.

The IEA is a registered educational charity and independent of all political parties.