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David Puttnam

The BBC’s licence fee should be replaced

Puttnam calls to scrap licence fee

29 June, 2016

Puttnam calls to scrap licence fee

The BBC’s licence fee should be replaced, its royal charter abolished and government intervention curtailed to protect the corporation’s independence, according to Lord Puttnam.

The recommendations have been outlined in Puttnam’s Future of Public Service Television report, which calls for the formation of several independent bodies to protect the BBC from government interference.

Puttnam warned that public scepticism encircling the media has spread to broadcasting and public trust could only be restored by minimising government interference.

“A well-resourced and fully independent public service television system that is free of political coercion offers our most reliable means of rebuilding public trust and accountability,” he said.

Consequently, his key recommendations concentrated predominately on minimising the government’s influence over the BBC.

He argued that appointments to the BBC’s new unitary board should be “entirely independent from government” and a new independent appointments body should be established to oversee this process instead.

Decision making over the funding of the BBC should also be removed from government hands and passed over to another newly established independent advisory body, working on fixed settlement periods.

The former deputy chair of Channel 4 also called for the BBC’s royal charter to be abolished to enable the BBC to be reconstituted as a statutory body.

Finally, he called for an end to the “vulnerable” licence fee model which has “failed to guarantee real independence” and should be replaced with either a tiered platform-neutral household fee, a supplement to Council Tax or through general taxation with parliamentary safeguards.

“The government should seek to replace the licence fee as soon as is practically possible with a more progressive funding mechanism. The BBC’s independence has also been compromised by the insecurity of its establishment by a royal charter and the process behind the appointments to its governing body,” the report said.

Written by Miranda Blazeby

Source: Broadcast Now