TV licences going up
The BBC has been told that culture secretary Tessa Jowell and Chancellor Gordon Brown have agreed a below-inflation rise for the TV licence fee.
The proposal has not yet been approved by the Prime Minister, but it is believed the figures represent the minimum UK investment that the BBC can realistically plan its coming schedules on.
Under the proposals, the licence fee rises by 3% next year and the year after, and 2% over the following three years. If approved, it would mean the cost of a TV licence would rise to £135.45 next year from its current level of £131.50.
There is no proposal for a fee beyond the fifth year yet, as there is still uncertainty about the cost of changing the service from analogue to digital. Discussions are still ongoing about this, and the BBC is expected to make an announcement in the New Year on its proposals for this stage of its UK investment.
Hugo Swire, Conservative shadow culture spokesman, said: “This is a huge defeat for Tessa Jowell, as she promised the BBC it would get a generous settlement.
“The big questions now are what comes off the menu agreed between the Government and the BBC during the charter renewal process, if the BBC can deliver on what it has promised the Government in terms of its UK investment, and was the original funding figure submitted by the BBC vastly inflated?”