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BBC license fee should be means-tested to ensure access for poorest households, former chairman suggests


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A former BBC chairman has suggested that the license should be means-tested so that lower-income households pay “less than those people who are well off”.

Richard Sharp said everyone should be able to access BBC content – and subsidised accordingly.

The 68-year-old added that the corporation offers much more than rival platforms such as Netflix.

It comes after director-general of the BBC, Tim Davie announced plans to look into a licence fee reform.

Richard Sharp and BBC HQ

Richard Sharp said everyone should be able to access BBC content – and subsidised accordingly


Davie has enquired about wealthier Britons paying a higher fee, however Conservatives said this would not happen under a Tory Government.

The BBC proposed an increase in the licence fee of almost £15, but it was blocked by the Government after it warned the firm to be “realistic” about what the public could afford.

The BBC’s deficit is set to surge to £492million in the upcoming financial year – more than twice the £220m shortfall in 2022/23.

Next month the annual fee for a BBC license will increase by £10.50, to £169.50.


“You know, Netflix doesn’t provide sport, Netflix doesn’t provide radio, Netflix doesn’t provide local radio, Netflix doesn’t provide a news website, doesn’t provide World Service or news at all,” Sharp told The Today podcast.

“If you look at what the consumer gets for the subscription, on a monthly basis, it is very good value for money.”

In response to whether the licence should be means-tested, he said: “I personally am of the view that one of the great things we need to be concerned about is the future changing nature of the media industry.

“What you’re increasingly going to have is consolidation – we saw that with Warner Brothers, Paramount, failing to get together – and then you’re going to have a very strong price control from the oligopolistic players.

Richard Sharp

The 68-year-old said that the corporation offers much more than rival platforms such as Netflix


“In which case, there is an element where people will be left behind in their opportunities for free media consumption.

“So, I do think the BBC has to be well-enough funded, but in a way that also provides the opportunity for people to get a rich media consumption, who are on lower incomes.

“Naturally, that leads you to a view – it’s a personal view, it’s up to the politicians and government of the day to decide – I do believe there is an opportunity to have some limited differential in terms of how consumers pay for it.

“Where the lower incomes still have the opportunity to benefit from the BBC at a lower threshold.”

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Written by: radioroxi

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