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Author Topic:  Questions over BBC licence fee as Labour warns it is not sacrosanct.  (Read 1366 times)

Tiger

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Francis Elliott Political Editor Times 4/6
Last updated at 12:01AM, June 4 2014
Labour has opened the door to an overhaul of the BBC licence fee in what is a major shift for the corporations stoutest political defender.
Harriet Harman, the partys deputy leader, said that the fee was not an end in itself and that Labour was open to an alternative funding method.
However, Ms Harman, who is also shadow culture secretary, said that she would not tolerate an ideological attack on the BBC and warned that the appointment of its new chairman must be seen to be above party politics.
Her remarks on the licence fee, which is now 145.50, will be scrutinised by the BBC as it prepares to open preliminary negotiations with the government before the renewal of its charter in 2016. Already some are calling for alternative methods of raising revenue.
The licence fee is a means to an end, its not an end to itself, Ms Harman said in an interview with Total Politics magazine. If theres a better way to have . . . a measure of independence from government in terms of the finance, if theres a better way of doing that, lets hear about it. We havent found it in the past; we might do in the future. Lets see. Its not easy to see what would be better than the licence fee but that doesnt mean it actually shouldnt be looked at.
Lord Coe, the Conservative peer who led the London Olympics, has become the leading candidate to replace Lord Patten of Barnes as the BBC Trust chairman, who is stepping down on health grounds.
Ms Harman did not comment directly on his candidature but said that she had written to Sajid Javid, the culture secretary, expressing her concern about a partisan appointment.
She said: Its one of those appointments that needs to be done not on a party political basis. Therefore a big responsibility falls on him to act in the public interest, not in a partisan way, so weve written to him to urge him not to behave like that. Its a very important appointment at a very critical time for the BBC.
Armando Iannucci, the writer of the Westminster satire The Thick Of It, repeated calls yesterday for the BBC to make overseas viewers pay a subscription. He told the London Evening Standard: The BBC should make a mint from the brand internationally. It needs a new attitude that says its not filthy to make money. As for the licence, you have people on laptops saying: What is a television? There will be a subscription model.
The BBC refused to comment on speculation that it was preparing to make 600 staff redundant in cuts to TV news and radio. The report, in Forbes, said that the cuts were part of an 800 million-a-year savings programme to slim down the BBC before its royal charter renewal.

darcysarto

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Re: Questions over BBC licence fee as Labour warns it is not sacrosanct.
« Reply #1 on: June 04, 2014, 08:53:49 PM »
The whole interview with Harriet can be found here: http://www.totalpolitics.com/articles/446117/painting-a-picture-harriet-harman-interview.thtml

This is what she had to say, I would err on the side of Harriet more than the Times interpretation and pairing it with Annucci's comments etc.  But it continues to show the huge damage that Thompson and his big pocket gang did, all this coming a day after Forbes reported a further 500 jobs to go in BBC News and Radio which 'the BBC' aren't commenting on at the moment.  All part of DQF and representing a reduction in staff of 1 in 16.

Quote

For now, Harriet Harman is reserving judgment on Sajid Javid - "The challenge is there for him, but he's only got a year" - but is scathing about his predecessors. While Maria Miller will be remembered for steering through the equal marriage legislation, Harman stresses that that was part of her equalities brief, and as for Jeremy Hunt, she wonders if "anybody remembers what he actually did in DCMS, aside from fail to resign over Leveson which he flipping well should have done."

Though stumped at first, I remember the new local television network. That was a Jeremy Hunt initiative wasn't it?

"Well... and where is that precisely in terms of delivery, in terms of outcome?" Harman asks, unimpressed. But surely the MP for Camberwell and Peckham tunes in to London Live for all the latest news and views from the capital?

"Well, we'll see, good luck to London Live" she replies, a little more positive about the project. "However, London Live is not the entire country. Let's see, but certainly in loads of areas it's evident what has gone into but not very evident as to what has come out of it. I wish them well, those of them who are doing it, but you had to take a little while working out and trying to remember local TV."

If Channel 8 is having teething problems, further up the dial some full-on surgery is required. Due to ill health, Chris Patten recently stood down as chairman of the BBC Trust, leaving Auntie parentless just as it gears up for the gruelling process of reviewing its charter.

Reflecting on a "very important appointment at a very critical time for the BBC", Harman confirms that she has written to Sajid Javid, who will have the final say on Patten's successor. "It's one of those appointments that needs to be done not on a party political basis, and therefore a big responsibility falls on him to act in the public interest, not in a partisan way, so we've written to him to urge him not to behave like that."

As for the wider process of charter review, Harman admits that the entire future of the trust model is up for debate. "What is the framework of the trust? How are the people appointed? Should there be a trust? What is the division between the regulatory functions of the trust and the executive functions of the board? All of these things really ought to be looked at in the proper process of charter review, not plucked out."

Is the licence fee also up for review? Yes, Harman admits, the review is an "opportunity to re-examine" the BBC's funding model, but not if at the risk of the BBC, which is "not to be undervalued and undermined. The BBC is for everyone," she argues. "What we are absolutely not up for is a kind of ideological attack on the BBC because it is a public sector broadcaster. The fact that it is a large public sector broadcaster is one of its most important attributes. That must be protected and we are absolutely unambiguous about that. There is an opportunity to consider change but in the context of very strong support."

But there is, she agrees, no sacred cow status for the licence fee is. "The licence fee is a means to an end, it's not an end to itself. If there's a better way to have universal... and a measure of independence from government in terms of the finance, if there a better way of doing that, let's hear about it. We haven't found it in the past; we might do in the future. Let's see. It's not easy to see what would be better than the licence fee but that doesn't mean it actually shouldn't be looked at."

Tiger

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Re: Questions over BBC licence fee as Labour warns it is not sacrosanct.
« Reply #2 on: June 04, 2014, 11:20:28 PM »
If the licence fee is abolished that will end public service broadcasting

It will then be all about the money. Harriet knows that.

I suppose she is towing the party line, because of the collapse of public trust in the BBC.

But her withdrawal of support is of huge concern. And that is clear.

Her continual asking of questions about the role of the BBC and the Trust is very annoying indeed. She is appointed by public election to actually have asked those questions and delivered answers in her role as shadow culture secretary, she has done nothing to achieve that with any purpose or integrity.
« Last Edit: June 04, 2014, 11:29:36 PM by Tiger »


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