The Conservative Party leader, who is hoping to secure a majority in the UK general election on Thursday, suggested during a Q&A on Monday that the BBC’s licence fee could be outdated.
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The British broadcaster collects £3.7BN ($4.9BN) in annual income through a £154.50 levy on British households. Johnson said his government will “certainly be looking at” abolishing this licence fee, which allows the BBC to fund shows including Fleabag, Bodyguard, Doctor Who and Top Gear.
“You have to ask yourself whether that kind of approach to funding a media organization still makes sense in the long term, given the way that other organizations manage to fund themselves,” Johnson said. “How long can you justify a system whereby everyone who has a TV has to pay to fund a particular set of channels.”
You can watch Johnson’s comments in full below:
"I am certainly looking at it… how long can you justify a system whereby everybody who has a TV has to pay to fund a particular set of channels?"
— BBC Politics (@BBCPolitics) December 9, 2019
Johnson will not be able to get his hands on the BBC’s funding model until 2027, however, given the corporation’s operating agreement, known as its royal charter, is only reviewed once a decade. Any attempt to reopen the existing charter, agreed under the Conservative government in 2017, would be met with fierce resistance.
Former British culture secretary Nicky Morgan last month mooted the idea of moving the BBC to a subscription model, bringing it in line with services such as Netflix and Amazon. But the Conservative election manifesto makes no mention of this ambition, instead saying the BBC will be used to project British influence and values to the rest of the world.
A BBC spokeswoman said: “As we’ve said before, the licence fee ensures a universal BBC which serves everyone, is the most popular funding system among the public and is agreed as the method of funding the BBC for another eight years.”