VLV Proposes a new method for setting the licence fee
Today VLV has submitted evidence to two committees in Parliament recommending the creation of a new body to set the licence fee. This follows the widespread disapproval of our members when the Government forced the BBC to take on the cost of free licence fees for the over 75's in July this year, reducing the BBC's income to maintain a high quality public service.
VLV proposes that the current system for setting the licence fee should be completely changed with the institution of a statutory body, the Licence Fee Body, to determine the level of licence fee settlements. This would provide protection to the BBC from the Government ‘top slicing’ the licence fee and diverting it to fund other projects. VLV has sponsored the preparation of a draft Bill to give effect to this.
The Licence Fee Body would comprise a chair and other members who have the requisite expertise and knowledge, are independent of government, of the BBC and other media organizations. It would consult with the public and recommend a level for the licence fee. The Secretary of State would have a duty to lay this recommendation before the Parliaments of the UK.
If the Government wanted to impose any extra burdens on the BBC during a Charter period, the Licence Fee Body would estimate what additional funding is required to carry out such projects.
The advantages to this alternative method of setting the fee are that there will be public and parliamentary consultation inherent in the process, the public would be involved and the decision would be taken independent of Government, thus removing the BBC from potential political interference.