The Culture, Media and Sport Committee has said the BBC Licence fee should be replaced by a broadcasting levy on all households with subscription a future possibility.
In its report The Future of the BBC, the committee also calls for major changes to the BBC’s governance with the removal of the BBC Trust as well as a recognition that the BBC should be involved in less areas of broadcasting.
Chair John Whittingdale said that with £4 billion of public resting with the BBC, questions had to be asked on how it was both acquired and spent. “The BBC has tried for too long to be all things to all people—with the rapid changes in communication and media technology and markets and changing audience needs and behaviours this no longer works. The BBC should tailor its output to what it does best, and not stray into areas that can and should be left to commercial providers to do well. It is pointless and wasteful having an organisation receiving that kind of public funding competing with—and potentially crowding out—other providers.”
The Committee said that in the short term there was no better alternative to the licence fee, but that it should be amended to cover viewing through catch-up TV as soon as possible. It also backed calls for non-payment of the Licence Fee to be decriminalised, but that such a change needed to be backed up by measures to prevent increased evasion.
A new rigorous and independent Public Service Broadcasting Commission (PSBC) should be established with the role of scrutinising the BBC’s strategic plan, assessing the BBC’s overall performance, and determining the level of public funding allocated to the BBC and others. A small amount of public funding should made available for other public service content priorities.