BBC pleads with chancellor to maintain current licence fee

BBC director general Tony Hall has held a face to face meeting with chancellor George Osborne in a bid to halt government moves to slash the licence fee revenues upon which it depends.

Reports in the Guardian suggest Hall attended private talks following reports that the Department for Culture Media and Support was seeking to reopen a financial settlement that was reached with the broadcaster last July.

The department is keen to stress that the matter is not settled and remains open to diverting some license fee money to other media organisations to help them fulfill their own public service remits.

Last year’s deal saw the BBC agree to assume the burden of covering the cost of the license fee for over 75’s in return for holding onto its existing funding model, a deal which it is keen to ensure sticks.

Hall’s concern centres on a statement made by baroness Neville-Rolfe, parliamentary under secretary for the DCMS, who told the House of Lords: “There have been calls from some quarters to allow part of the licence fee – or some other form of public funding – to be made available for public service broadcasting to organisations other than the BBC. That is the contestable funding model … That model is under discussion and our plans will be set out in the white paper.”

Speculation in the press suggests that culture secretary John Whittingdale is seeking to divert as much as £100m of license fee money to third parties in order to finance such content.

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