The UK’s TV licence fee will need to replaced by a new “broadcasting levy” on all households according to MPs on the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee.
In a report on the BBC’s future, the committee says “there is currently no better alternative to the licence fee” but says it should be modernised and extended to cover use of the iPlayer.
Today’s report also calls for non-payment of the licence to be decriminalised, but says such a move “needs to be accompanied by measures to prevent increased evasion.”
MPs say the broadcaster “has tried for too long to provide ‘something for everyone’” and should in future “reduce provision in areas where others are better placed to deliver excellence and better value for money”.
There are also calls to reform the BBC’s governance arrangements by abolishing the BBC Trust and moving to a single board with a non-executive Chair, who would be known as the BBC Chairman.
The BBC’s strategic plan would then be assessed and monitored by a new “rigorous and independent” Public Service Broadcasting Commission which would assess the BBC’s performance, and determine the level of public funding allocated to it and other broadcasters.
Committee chair John Whittingdale MP said “Over the last few years the BBC has suffered from a succession of disasters of its own making, yet it remains a widely admired and trusted institution, and fulfils many important functions both at home and abroad.
“However, when an organisation is in receipt of nearly £4 billion of public money, very big questions have to be asked about how that money is provided and spent, and how that organisation is governed and made accountable.”
Commenting on the report, a BBC spokesperson said: “This report confirms the importance of the BBC in national life and recommends maintaining and modernising the licence fee, something we have said is necessary.
“We’re grateful to the committee for endorsing our record for efficiency and maintaining the quality of programmes and services, and note members overwhelmingly voted against moving to a subscription funding model.”
The BBC Trust said: “This report highlights a number of issues and challenges that the Trust recognises and that we are seeking to address, and we agree that there must be robust internal governance and independent regulatory oversight of the BBC.
“Charter Review will be when this and other issues are debated thoroughly, but we welcome this thoughtful and considered early contribution.
“In the meantime the Trust will continue to argue for a BBC that delivers accurate, independent and high quality content that provides something for everyone, underpinned by a universal funding model.”