VLV comments on CMS Select Committee Report on The Future of the BBC Report
The VLV believes that the Select Committee Report is an important contribution to the debate on the future of the BBC, ahead of decisions on the renewal of its Charter. We welcome the emphasis that the views of licence fee payers must play an important role in this debate.
"We share the Committee’s view that the licence fee remains at present the most effective and practical way of funding the BBC" said VLV Chairman Colin Browne.
"This should be set at a level that provides value for money for licence fee payers, while enabling the BBC to provide services that reach out to all parts of society and to invest in distinctive original, UK production."
The VLV believes that the BBC should remain at its present size and scale in order to be able to act effectively as the cornerstone of public service broadcasting. We would not want to see any increase in its size or dominance in the market and do not agree with the Committee’s suggestion that it is too large.
The VLV welcomes, in principle, the proposal that funding decisions should be removed from the political arena. As the Committee notes, the 2010 licence fee arrangement was negotiated behind closed doors, with no public consultation, resulting in a highly unsatisfactory agreement that threatened to prejudice the BBC’s independence. At least £20 of the current licence fee of £145.50 a year now funds activities which have little to do with what we hear on our radios or see on our television screens - such as broadband rollout, BBC Monitoring, local television and the World Service. We are opposed to ‘top-slicing’ of the licence fee.
It is clearly right that alternatives to the licence fee need to be considered for the longer term. In assessing these, we will consider how effectively they meet the key criterion of providing a universal service, free to users at the point of reception. We would not support subscription, as this undermines the principle of universality.
We will study the recommendations on governance carefully to determine how the interests of consumers and licence payers are met in the most cost-effective way.