Public funding for the BBC should be questioned - UK PM Johnson

General election 2019: Johnson 'could look at' abolishing BBC licence fee

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has suggested that the BBC licence fee could be dropped and replaced with a pay-to-view subscription model under a new Conservative government, reports The Times.

He said that while the Tories were now "not planning to get rid of all TV licence fees", the current system "bears reflection".

'I think the system of funding out of what is effectively a general tax - everybody has a TV - bears reflection, let me put it that way. "How long can you justify a system whereby everyone who has a TV has to pay to fund a particular set of channels". That is the question'.

Mr Johnson said: "I certainly think that the BBC should cough up and pay for the licenses for the over 75s as they promised to do".

A change could come in from 2027 when the BBC's current Royal Charter expires.

Former British culture secretary Nicky Morgan last month mooted the idea of moving the BBC to a subscription model, bringing it in line with services such as Netflix and Amazon.

When quizzed on the potential abolition of a licence fee whilst campaigning in the Northeast, Johnson replied: "For everyone?"

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The future of United Kingdom public broadcaster the BBC has again come into question after the British government admitted it was considering whether to decriminalise non-payment of the licence fee that supports the organisation.

The other option being looked at is to make the viewers' contribution voluntary by decriminalising non-payment. It is required to take over funding free licences for the over-75s in June but says it can only afford to give them to those receiving pension credit.

Prime Minister Johnson made the comments during a rally in Sunderland on Monday, saying he was "certainly looking at it".

"I would argue that's the wrong model for supporting the BBC". "It would be very, very different to the sort of BBC you have now, because you would be giving subscribers what they want, not the breadth of the population".

Sam Packer, media campaign manager at the TaxPayers' Alliance, which has led the Axe The TV Tax campaign to scrap the licence fee, said: "Boris is right to see the way the wind is blowing and look at axing the TV tax".

"The licence fee is a hangover from a past media age, before the advent of streaming services and catch-up telly".

The BBC's public service broadcasting income for 2018/19 was a little more than £4 billion, with 90% of that coming from the licence fee.

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