A senior BBC executive has made a number of remarks about the TV licence fee, insisting “the case for a universal BBC has never been stronger” and stating the licence fee is “widely backed by the public”.
In a letter published on Thursday, BBC director of policy Clare Sumner declared the broadcaster was “fighting the growing threat of disinformation with impartial news” and “bringing the country together in divided times.”
On the specific matter on funding, Sumner said “the licence fee is not only well supported by those in the industry, it’s also widely backed by the public.
“When we ask people how they wish the BBC to be funded, the licence fee is the most popular answer compared to advertising and subscription models,” she claimed.
However, Ms Sumner’s remarks do not appear to be consistent with the latest opinion polling on the matter, with 56% of a 1,700 strong poll by Redfield and Wilton published this month in favour of scrapping the telly tax – just 19% were opposed.
Other polling including YouGov’s for the Times newspaper at the beginning of the year tells a similar story.
Just 29% said the licence fee represented good value for money while a whopping 59% said it did not. 53% supported the BBC’s funding model changing to either commercial advertising or subscriptions. Only 21% backed the licence fee in its current form.
And the public’s view appears to be shifting further away from the broadcaster, as 33% of respondents beleived the BBC’s values had become less aligned with their own over the last twelve months. Just 4% thought the BBC was coming to represent them better.
The broadcaster is facing an existential crisis as it fails to keep up with an ever more digital and technological age of subscription-based services.
It is facing a public relations nightmare regarding the outcry over licence fee exemptions for over-75s ending last August and the overzealous enforcement that has been widely reported against Britain’s pensioners.
With the licence fee due to rise to £159 come April, the debate on whether the broadcaster should continue to be funded using the existing model will not be going away anytime soon.