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Tim Davie called for a ‘full process involving public consultation’ on what will happen to the licence fee and said her announcement on the pricing had been a ‘surprise’.
Ms Dorries confirmed last week the licence fee will be frozen at £159 for two years until 2024, after which it will rise in line with inflation for the following four years.
And Mr Davie, who faced questions over the BBC’s future today, suggested the funding gap will have grown to £285million in the final year of the settlement.
He and two other senior BBC executives gave evidence to the Public Accounts Committee today on reform and sustainability at the public service broadcaster.
Asked about what should happen next, Mr Davie said today: ‘We have a charter for six years and there needs to be a full process involving public consultation.
BBC director general Tim Davie at the Public Accounts Committee in Westminster today
BBC chief financial officer Glyn Isherwood (left) and chief operating officer Leigh Tavazia (right) appeared with Mr Davie (centre) in front of the committee today to answer questions
‘And I don’t think it’s for one person to decide the funding model of the BBC. We need to go through that properly. And I think the licence fee has proven itself to be very strong in what it delivers.
‘But that’s not to say that the BBC is dug in behind… we absolutely want to go through a process and listen to the public on that. That’s what needs to happen.’
Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries pictured outside Downing Street in London yesterday
He was also asked by MPs whether he was surprised that Ms Dorries tweeted that there was an announcement imminent on the licence fee.
Mr Davie said: ‘As I’ve said publicly we were in the final knockings, so it was expected to have a conclusion within days. It was a surprise, the nature of the announcement in that particular moment.
‘It has come at the end of a long process, so I think it’s fair to say that this has been a process in which we’ve submitted good data, a strong case, there’s been a number of meetings – and the settlement in of itself was not a great surprise.’
And asked if he was expecting the announcement that day, he said: ‘I was not expecting it that day. I was expecting to get an agreement between us within the next few days.
‘I’m not an expert of parliamentary process and announcements, but I was expecting to get communication in the next few days.’
It comes after Ms Dorries tweeted on January 16: ‘This licence fee announcement will be the last. The days of the elderly being threatened with prison sentences and bailiffs knocking on doors, are over.
Mr Davie and two other senior BBC executives gave evidence to the Public Accounts Committee today on reform and sustainability at the public service broadcaster
The BBC logo is seen on the front of New Broadcasting House in London on January 17
‘Time now to discuss and debate new ways of funding, supporting and selling great British content.’
BBC bosses told to watch their news bulletins to understand need for fee freeze
A former BBC chairman yesterday told corporation bosses to watch their own news bulletins highlighting the cost of living crisis before moaning about a lack of funding.
Lord Grade of Yarmouth claimed there is a ‘complete lack of reality’ about the response from some at the Beeb as he backed the two-year freeze of the ‘regressive’ licence fee.
He said some peers seemed to be suggesting the BBC is ‘impoverished’ by the new settlement, but argued £3.7billion in 2022 in a crowded market place is a ‘surprisingly good settlement’.
Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries has announced the licence fee will instead be fixed at £159 until April 2024 before rising with inflation for the following four years.
Speaking in the House of Lords, Conservative peer Lord Grade said: ‘I wish those at the BBC who asked for more money from the Government would watch their own news bulletins and read and see what is going on in the news bulletins about whether people have to make the decision to heat or eat, the increased use of food banks.
‘There is a complete lack of reality about what’s going in Britain with this regressive tax.
‘I believe in the BBC, I stand with everybody in this House who supports the BBC, but this is not the time for them to be asking for more money.’
He said Ms Dorries’s decision to start the debate on what people want from the BBC and how it is paid for is a ‘very good step in the right direction and very timely’.
The BBC’s chief financial officer Glyn Isherwood and chief operating officer Leigh Tavazia also appeared in front of the committee this afternoon to answer a range of questions.
And Ms Leigh was asked about how ITV is overhauling its schedule to extend its evening news bulletin and pit its top soaps Coronation Street and Emmerdale directly against the BBC’s EastEnders.
She replied: ‘We’re actually not that concerned. We think the audiences are different. We have an important followship on EastEnders.
‘It’s a more younger skewing audience and actually EastEnders does incredibly well for us on iPlayer as well, so it’s not just got a linear audience who may be choosing to watch Corrie and Emmerdale and EastEnders at similar times now, but actually we think the value of EastEnders on our on demand service for younger audiences is going to remain and we’re confident in that.’
Mr Davie added: ‘On iPlayer you look at most popular, EastEnders tends to be the most popular on a daily basis because so many people are catching up.
We’re not immune from competitive pressure, let’s be honest about it. And you may have a marginal impact or an impact during that hour, but we’re confident that the overall case for EastEnders development remains strong.’
The revamped hour-long national and international news on ITV will run from 6.30pm to 7.30pm when it is introduced in March.
At the same time, Coronation Street will move to hour-long episodes at 8pm on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, while Emmerdale will move to a daily 7.30pm slot.
The schedule changes are likely to have irritated executives at the BBC as they will mean that ITV’s soaps will clash directly with EastEnders, which is usually shown on Mondays at 8.05pm, Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7.30pm and Fridays at 8pm.
Meanwhile it has been claimed that any cuts to BBC funding will likely to hit coverage of live events such as the Queen’s platinum jubilee, the Commonwealth Games, and the first Glastonbury festival since 2019.
The corporation will also likely have to look at other areas to increase its income, such as BBC Studios, its commercial arm.
Last week, Mr Davie refused to rule out axing services including BBC Two, BBC Four and Radio 5 Live. He further warned they may also have to cut more jobs.
David Dimbleby suggested the licence fee could be linked to council tax to make it fairer. And Andrew Marr, who left the BBC to join LBC, suggested it might have to move a subscription model similar to that of Netflix.
Source: Daily Mail