BBC licence fee downfall predicted by Tory MP as broadcaster turns 100

Andrew Bridgen discusses the BBC license fee

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The BBC will not celebrate its 150-year anniversary unless the broadcaster adapts to the modern age and “goes global”, a Conservative MP has said. Andrew Bridgen, MP for North West Leicestershire, has slammed the BBC – which celebrates its 100-year anniversary this week – for using the licence fee as their “lifeboat” while failing to take into account the progress of technology. 

In his critique of the state broadcaster, the MP said the system was failing and the senior management team needed to shift their focus towards a new, global subscription model. 

It comes after a recent Techne Poll conducted by which indicated that out of 1,632 people asked, just 24 percent wanted the licence fee of £159 to remain intact. 

However, 27 percent were in favour of full privatisation, while 30 percent wanted to introduce a subscription service. 

Of the 30 percent who were in favour of the subscription model, 27 percent were in the age range 18-34, while 31 percent were in the older than 64 category. 

Speaking to about whether an overhaul of the service was still feasible, Mr Bridgen said: “It is still not too late. But it would need a complete mindset change of the BBC which I am not sure they are capable of making. 

“They have come to the licence fee as their lifeboat but actually it is the low stone dragging them down because technology was always going to mean that people would just stop watching live television.”

Mr Bridgen described the situation as never-ending unless the BBC reforms now. 

The MP is an advocate for the UK reestablishing itself as a dominant global power and reiterated that the BBC going global through a subscription service is the best projection of soft power. 

He said: “The figures for people who want privatisation and a new kind of service is only going to grow every year. The sooner they make the break now, the better for the BBC. They need to go subscription, merge with BBC Worldwide and go global.

“Global subscription to the English-speaking world. If they had done it when I advised them eight years ago they would have been number one in the world now. 

“But that is going to need a different mindset from BBC’s senior management and they need to get people in who could deliver that model. But again it would be a fantastic projection of UK soft power. 

“And they have got a brilliant brand name, respected around the world.

“Under its current management system, the BBC will not celebrate 200 years. It will not even celebrate 150 years.”

The MP has been adamant for nearly a decade that failure to pay the TV licence fee should not be a criminal offence, having campaigned for a charter renewal in 2014. 

Speaking to LBC’s Nick Ferrari on BBC Radio 5 Live in January this year, he said:  “I didn’t get what I wanted in 2014 at [the BBC] charter renewal when I wanted decriminalisation of the TV licence and got into the deregulation bill.

“But your employees in the Lord’s hoofed it back out and it wasn’t doing the BBC any favours.

“If you’d gone subscription in 2014 after the 25th charter renewal, you would have been bigger than Netflix now.

“You could have gone worldwide, sold to England world, put your back catalogue on a streaming service, and you’d be in a far better financial position than you are now and the projection of soft power for the UK would have been brilliant.”

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