Call to scrap licence fee and BBC One as report urges 'much smaller' corporation


The BBC licence fee and the corporation's flagship channel BBC One should be scrapped, according to a new report.

The publication also claimed that the iPlayer will now become the most expensive online streaming service, if users, who must now pay the licence fee, do not engage with any other BBC products.

A loophole is being closed today which allowed people to watch BBC shows they had missed on live TV for free.

They will now risk prosecution and a £1,000 fine if they download or watch programmes on the iPlayer without a TV licence.

The report, Licence to Kill: Funding the BBC, has been published by the right-wing think-tank the Centre for Policy Studies.

It claimed that removing "BBC services which are not distinct, (and) are already provided by its competitors... would save £1.8 billion - half the licence fee".

It called for the closure of BBC One, Radio 1, Radio 2, local radio and BBC orchestras among other services.

The report criticised the Government for what it said was simply a "tweak" in the BBC charter review.

It said that the new set-up - designed to remain in place until 2027 - was "not sustainable" and that a full charter review should take place during the "midterm review" in 2021.

It said that the case for "radical changes to the BBC" to make it "much smaller" and "specialise in what no-one else can do... will become even more compelling over the next few years".

The report called for the scrapping of the licence fee and for a smaller BBC to be "directly funded by the Government in the same way as the Arts Council or the NHS".

The report's author, Martin Le Jeune, a former director of public affairs at Sky, said: "The BBC should no longer seek to be bigger and to provide everything to everyone.

"There is no reason for providing that universal service via a compulsory tax, when people could choose instead how to spend their own money on what they really want."

The report said that the BBC, which it called a "state-funded colossus", should only provide content that "is important to the UK's social, political and cultural wellbeing."

It claimed that the BBC had not been "genuinely innovative" and that a BBC archive of content should be open for all to use.

"The BBC has already made a few gestures to restrict its output - of which removing recipes created an enormous fuss as it was intended to do," the report said.

"After a decent interval, the BBC will creep back into soft areas again."

A BBC spokesman said that the £145.50 licence fee was great value for money.

"The recent government consultation on the future of the BBC showed huge support from the public for the BBC and what it does, with very few people wanting the BBC cut back," the spokesman said.

"The BBC and the licence fee represents excellent value for money."

A BBC spokesman emphasised that the licence fee paid for more services than just the iPlayer.

He said: "This is nonsense as the BBC is not simply an online streaming service, but also offers TV channels, radio stations and online services."