BBC Trust warns against licence fee freeze

Tuesday, March 17 2009, 08:57 GMT

The BBC Trust has warned against freezing the television licence fee.
Yesterday, Conservative Party leader David Cameron's called for the licence fee to be frozen for a year because it needed to "lead by example" by "tightening its belt".

The BBC's governing body responded: "Like David Cameron, we agree that a stable BBC and one that is funded by a licence fee is critical to the future of Britain's creative industries, and to delivering world-class public service broadcasting to the British public. The BBC must live within its means, but unplanned reductions in the licence fee could put services at risk which would not be in the interests of licence fee payers.

"Funding stability is important to the BBC's creative and editorial independence. It is a unique privilege which carries big responsibilities to deliver high quality programmes and services and to play a leading role in digital switchover. As the public face the reality of a recession, the BBC has an even greater responsibility to demonstrate to them that the 39p a day it receives from every licence fee payer is working hard and being spent to deliver something of real value to them."

The Trust said it had put in place efficiency targets equalling 1.5bn in cost savings by 2012-13 that must be "achieved without jeopardising the programmes and services that audiences love."