The former BBC Question Times host slammed the TV licence fee for taking £159 per year from rich and poor alike. He suggested this indiscriminate a
The former BBC Question Times host slammed the TV licence fee for taking £159 per year from rich and poor alike. He suggested this indiscriminate approach was “unfair” and “inequitable”.
Mr Dimbleby stressed his view that the licence fee should exist, but that it needs to be changed.
He told BBC Radio 4’s World At One: “The licence fee is something that I absolutely believe in.
“I don’t think you can have public service broadcasting without paying for it through the public purse in that way.
“But what I do think is the BBC should acknowledge that £159 paid by the poorest as well the richest is just unfair, it’s inequitable.”
Mr Dimbleby has spent most of his professional life at the national broadcaster and was the widely-respected chairman of Question Time for well over 20 years.
The licence fee which funds the BBC would, he said, be fairer if it was based on the council tax rate bands.
This would see those in richer areas paying more to support the broadcaster than those living in poorer areas.
Mr Dimbleby spelled out his proposal quite simply in a letter in the Times today, on Friday: “Those in band A would pay the most for possession of a TV set and those in band D the least.”
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He added: “In this way the BBC’s revenue would be maintained but the burden would fall more fairly on the public, and at least one of the objections to the licensing system would be removed.”
Here, the veteran broadcaster hinted that, even if this proposal was implemented, other grievances with the BBC in the ongoing row over the licence fee would live on.
A major contention regarding the continuation of the levy is tied to allegations of bias at the corporation.
Bow Group Chairman Ben Harris-Quinney recently told Express.co.uk the BBC is guilty of constantly pushing a “tired liberal metropolitan establishment” view.
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He said: “The BBC like to talk about diversity a lot, but fundamentally the problem is one of a shocking lack of diversity in viewpoints.”
Mr Dimbleby expressed a view not a million miles from this sentiment, noting that the broadcaster has strayed “a bit” on some issues, including immigration.
He commented: “Over the years the BBC has not been strong on looking at the reasons that people in some parts of Britain were uneasy about the scale of immigration.”
This comes as the Government – in what some believe to be a bid to distract attention away from what has been dubbed ‘Partygate’ – has hinted at abolishing the licence fee after the current royal charter ends.
Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries recently tweeted that the next licence fee announcement “will be the last”.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson later told Cabinet that he was “right behind this” idea, according to a report in The Sun.
Presented with Mr Dimbleby’s proposal for the licence fee to be based on the council tax rate bands, a BBC spokesperson pointed to a statement from the broadcaster’s Chairman and Director-General, noting: “We actively look forward to the national debate on the next Charter and, of course, all options should be considered.”