BBC chairman suggests loss of licence fee could spell the end of CBeebies

Published on: 12th February 2020

Subscription service would lead to major cutbacks in children’s TV.

According to a report in The Guardian, the BBC’s chairman will warn in a speech today that replacing the licence fee with a Netflix-style subscription service would result in significant cuts to its children’s programming, which could potentially result in the loss of dedicated channels such as CBeebies and CBBC in their present form.

Sir David Clementi will say that while the BBC welcomes debate on its future funding model, it would also be forced to make substantial cuts to its educational programmes and retreat from the regions if it had to compete on a commercial basis.

He will use a speech in Salford to warn that this model would result in drastically reduced output: “A subscription service would be very unlikely to continue the level of properly curated programmes for children, or indeed the brilliant Bitesize education services that have helped so many teenagers. It would not have the same commitment to investing in home-grown ideas and talent, to the benefit of our whole creative sector.”

The government is already consulting over decriminalising non-payment of the licence fee, while hinting that the licence fee model itself could be abolished when the BBC’s agreement with the government runs out at the end of 2027. Many other European countries have already moved to a model where public broadcasters are funded either directly by the government or through a supplementary payroll tax on workers.


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