David Clementi, the BBC’s chairman, is set to issue a warning that a “diminished BBC would weaken the country as a whole”.
In his speech to be delivered in Salford later today (February 11th), Clementi will say: “The BBC is a great national asset; a diminished BBC is a weakened United Kingdom. Sitting behind a paywall, it would no longer be the place that brings the country together for the Strictly final, or Gavin & Stacey on Christmas Day, or the Armistice Anniversary or Holocaust Memorial. Nor would it be the place that all could turn to celebrate live important moments we enjoy as a nation: Royal weddings or jubilees, or Olympic successes.”
Clementi will also warn: “it would be very unlikely to continue the level of properly curated programmes for children, or indeed the brilliant Bitesize education services”.
“The BBC will engage fully with the government’s [licence fee] consultation, but it must be based on the evidence,” advance comments from his speech said. “A decision of this scale, taking hundreds of millions out of the BBC and the creative economy, must not be taken in isolation.”
The UK government is already consulting decriminalising non-payment of the licence fee, while hinting that the licence fee model itself could be abolished when the BBC’s agreement with the government expires in 2027.