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BBC — [Phil Wilson in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 4:30 pm on 15th July 2019.

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Photo of Helen Jones Helen Jones Chair, Petitions Committee 4:30 pm, 15th July 2019

I agree. The reason for the BBC’s popularity is that we maintain the model of public service broadcasting. People who want to get rid of the licence fee ought to remember that a public service broadcaster is free of commercial and sponsorship influence in its news, and that it provides a far wider range of channels and radio stations than that provided by broadcasters that aim at niche markets. In fact, the BBC’s output has to cater for a whole range of tastes, including minority interests.

There is no doubt that the decision to end free TV licences for the over-75s, and to restrict them to people in receipt of pension credit, has damaged hugely the BBC’s reputation. The decision has been met with almost universal condemnation. In fact, only the Taxpayers Alliance, which seems to get a lot of its funding from people who do not pay British tax, is in favour of it. Nevertheless, the real villain of the piece is not the BBC, but the Government. In 2017 they fought an election on a manifesto that promised to maintain free TV licences for the duration of this Parliament, knowing full well that in 2015 they had entered into an agreement with the BBC that made it impossible.