Saturday, 11th July 2015

by Joshua Gaskell

The greatest long-term challenge faced by the BBC is to convince people of my age and younger that paying it a licence fee (or another tax-like contribution) is the right and natural thing to do. People must believe in the good reasons for a compulsory levy so that they are happy to pay it for the foreseeable future.

This is quite distinct from the short-term gain made by the BBC, in the deal struck with the government at the start of the week, which secures the licence fee funding mechanism for the next five years. Moreover, the corresponding gain made by the government – the Beeb will take on the £750-million cost of subsidising free licence fees for over-75s – actually makes the long-term challenge more difficult. Those who need most convincing will be subsidising those who need least: ‘Lord Reith, is he from Game of Thrones?’ will pick up the tab for ‘I’d pay the licence fee just for Radio 4’.

The fact that the Tory party sits atop a demographic time bomb may bring me solace, but their attempting to plant a replica under Broadcasting House is deeply troubling.

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