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Deputy Labour leader Harriet Harman has raised the possibility that the BBC could be funded by something other than a licence fee, describing the current £145.50 (€179) a year compulsory charge as a “means to an end, not an end in itself”.
Harman’s comments, in an interview in Total Politics magazine, come after The Thick of It creator Armando Iannucci said the licence fee should be axed in favour of subscription, with the BBC funding homegrown programmes by “ruthlessly” selling content abroad.
Harman told Total Politics magazine: “The licence fee is a means to an end, it’s not an end in 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.”
Harman said other methods should be considered for paying for the BBC, saying the current licence renewal process, due to be completed by the end of 2016, was an “opportunity to re-examine” the corporation’s funding model.