The BBC, which is funded by an annual licence fee of £157.50 a year, has come under fire for its funding model in recent years. The Government agreed earlier this year to review the corporation’s finance model, and ministers are believed to be looking into shifting towards a subscription model – similar to that of Netflix and NowTV. A bitter row erupted last year when the corporation announced pensioners were no longer exempt from paying the licence fee and now a campaign has been launched to “defund the BBC”.
The campaign was established by James Yucel, a student at Glasgow University, who became disillusioned by the broadcaster with what he interpreted as left-wing bias.
He launched the Twitter Handle, @DefundBBC, and calls for an end to the annual fee.
Mr Yucel claims the corporation fails to adhere to its own editorial guidelines which commit to political impartiality.
He said: “Their definition of impartiality depends on their interpretation of their values.
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“Sadly I don’t think their values match up to the values of the British people which is why I have set this campaign up in the hope of making the BBC aware of where they’re going wrong.
“But don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a reform the BBC campaign, I don’t think personally the BBC deserves anymore chances, we want to scrap the licence fee – that is our sole aim.
“In the digital age the licence fee is analogue really and the way I look at this thing is you’ve got Netflix, you’ve got Sky, Amazon Prime, Disney+, all of these new subscription models coming about in this age of digital.
“I think the Government should scrap the licence fee and if the government won’t the people will.”
The BBC insists its coverage is politically neutral and unbiased.
It recently apologised for airing a Newsnight programme where presenter Emily Maitlis delivered a monologue criticising the Government over its handling of the Dominic Cummings scandal – where Boris Johnson’s chief aide was accused of breaking lockdown rules.
The Government is currently reviewing the BBC’s funding model and is understood to be considering shifting towards a subscription-based service.
Earlier this year Nicky Morgan, who was Culture Secretary at the time, said the Government would look into decriminalising non-payment of the licence fee.
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She said there were “legitimate concerns” about whether the criminal sanctions “remain relevant in this changing media landscape,” and suggested that they could be replaced with a fine for non-payment.
Ms Morgan said the licence fee would remain in place until the end of the current charter period, which ends in December 2027.
In February it was reported that the Government had threatened to scrap the BBC licence fee and turn it into a subscription service.
The Sunday Times quoted a senior source as saying that Mr Johnson was “really strident” on the need for serious reform.
One source told the newspaper: “We are not bluffing on the licence fee.
“We are having a consultation and we will whack it.
“It has got to be a subscription model.
“They’ve got hundreds of radio stations, they’ve got all these TV stations and a massive website.
“The whole thing needs massive pruning back.”