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Culture secretary 'open-minded' about replacing BBC licence fee with subscription model

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By John Glenday, Reporter

October 17, 2019 | 2 min read

UK culture secretary Nicky Morgan has hinted she is open to replacing the licence fee funding mechanism which underpins the BBC’s operations with a Netflix-style subscription model.

Culture secretary considers scrapping BBC licence fee in favour of a subscription model

Culture secretary considers scrapping BBC licence fee in favour of a subscription model

The switch is up for consideration after a select committee hearing in which Conservative critics of the fee pushed for a change, believing any such move could be a vote winner.

Responding to a question from Julian Knight MP on just such a policy, Morgan replied: “I’m open-minded and I will have decisions and listen to evidence on all sides. What I haven’t seen is any evidence, either way, what a subscription-based system would do in terms of the revenue.

“The licence fee last year raised £3.7bn for the BBC. They obviously have other sources of income as well. So I would need to understand what, if you were going to change, that would do to their income.”

At present TV owners pay a flat rate of £154.50 per year to view broadcast content but this could switch to a system where people pay only to opt in to BBC content which they desire to consume.

Any move would not be enacted until at least 2027 however, when the BBC’s current government charter comes to an end.

In 2015, the BBC and government reached an agreement to scrap the licence fee for the over 75s.

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The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters are at Broadcasting House in Westminster, London.

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