January 23, 2020
It would be morally wrong for a government to hoodwink the over-75s with the idea that when their free television licence ends there will be no damage to the BBC if they don’t pay upVictoria Derbyshire has every right to feel aggrieved. The star of her eponymous show, a much-admired BBC Two current affairs programme, learned of its demise online. It reaches parts of Britain others can only dream of – and the BBC’s legitimacy depends on doing so. To be axed in such a shabby way is hardly an advertisement for BBC management practice. Despite this, one ought not to lose sight of what led to this sorry state of affairs: the orchestrated campaign by politicians, corporate rivals and rightwing thinktanks in a war against the BBC.
The Guardian view on the licence fee: the BBC will not be the BBC without it | Editorial
The end of Ms Derbyshire’s show has been hastened by deliberate Tory policy. In 2015, George Osborne compelled the BBC to accept the roughly £500m-a-year cost of providing the over-75s with a free TV licence – loading a welfare policy on to a broadcaster. This funding deal was based not on public consultation, a published analysis of the BBC’s funding needs or the likely impact on services. Indeed, there had been no inkling that such a move might be undertaken by Mr Osborne. Perhaps his meetings beforehand with Rupert Murdoch might have helped make up the then chancellor’s mind. Mr Murdoch sees the BBC as a commercial foe, describing it wrongly as being a “massive taxpayer funded mouthpiece for tiny circulation leftist Guardian [sic]”.
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