BBC’s new chair hints at incoming TV licence changes – but brands fee ‘least worst model’ | UK | News (Reports)


Richard Sharp, who the Government has named as its preferred candidate for the BBC top job, appeared in front of MPs today where he was quizzed on his suitability for the role. Tory MP Steve Brine asked the incoming chair about his views on the current TV licence fee model, where Mr Sharp hinted he might back reforms.

The Tory MP for Winchester asked Mr Sharp if he agreed that the TV licence fee was the best approach for the BBC.

Mr Sharp responded: “I subscribe to the view that it is the least worst [option].”

He went on to state the annual fee is “terrific value” for money, noting that the £157.50 fee works out at 43p a day.

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He said: “At 43p a day the BBC represents terrific value, more so now that people are faced with the prices they have to pay for private-sector content.

“If you look at the average Sky content at £400 a year and people are paying £120/130 for Netflix etc.”

He added: “In order to represent value it has to deliver to them what they want and what they appreciate in the future and I believe it is doing that.”

Mr Brine then probed the incoming chair on whether he thought the TV licence fee is fit for purpose and suitable to adapt to changing technologies and the shift towards online streaming.

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Mr Sharp responded: “Yes, I will see I am aware there are other routes, there are household taxes for example in Germany which amounts to the same amount of money.

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The BBC’s TV licence fee model has come under fire in recent years, in part due to its decision to no longer waive the fee for over-75s.

Critics have suggested a subscription service could be more appropriate, in order to keep up with streaming services such as Netflix, AmazonPrime and DisneyPlus.

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At the start of today’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, Mr Sharp was also probed on his links to the Tory party.

During one round of questions, he admitted to donating £400,000 to the governing party between 2001-2010.

He also has personal relations with Chancellor Rishi Sunak, having previously worked as his boss when the pair worked at Goldman Sachs.

But interestingly, Mr Sharp said he did not agree with the Government’s proposals to decriminalise nonpayment of the TV licence fee.

When asked on the topic, he said: “I am not in favour of decriminalisation.”


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