TV licence fee ‘could be cut’: Jeremy Hunt

The BBC licence fee could be cut under the Coalition Government’s public spending austerity drive, the Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt has said in a newspaper interview over the weekend.

BBC

In the interview, Hunt attacked the corporation’s “extraordinary and outrageous” waste adding that the BBC needs to recognise the “very constrained financial situation” the country is in. He said that he could “absolutely” see viewers paying less than the current £145.50 a year after next year’s negotiations with the Government.

“I think that’s the discussion that we need to have,” he said. “The BBC should not interpret the fact that we haven’t said anything about the way licence fee funds are used as an indication that we are happy about it. We will be having very tough discussions.”

He said: “There’s a moment when elected politicians have an opportunity to influence the BBC and it happens every five years. It is when the licence fee is renewed.”

Recent figures showed that BBC director-general Mark Thompson and the executive board’s total pay packet has gone up.

Total remuneration for the BBC executive board went up in 2009-10 to £4.769m from £4.601m in 2008-09.

Chairman of the BBC Trust Sir Michael Lyons has outlined plans to slash pay, calling for greater transparency in an attempt to appease the Government and saying every pound the BBC takes from licence fee-payers must be shown to have been spent well.

The BBC Trust has begun a string of pre-emptive policy announcements such as pledging to close its pension scheme to new employees and promising to cut top executives’ salaries.

The salaries of top ’stars’ are also be published. The BBC’s accounts will be examined by the National Audit Office, after the Corporation’s annual report showed a rise in staff numbers and pay.

This story first appeared on pitch

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