Tories defer plans to freeze TV licence fee

New minister for media & arts says BBC to be treated firmly but fairly.

The Tories have shelved plans to freeze the television licence fee, which currently stands at £145.50 per year, according to Ed Vaizey, Britain's new minister for media & arts.

In his first interview, Vaizey said the government would treat the BBC firmly but fairly.

The minister hinted that the new government has no plans to block an annual increase in the licence fee, which may now see a hike of £3 this year and a similar rise in 2012, to reach £151.50.

He acknowledged that last year his party tried and failed to win a parliamentary vote to freeze the licence fee temporarily "but that was simply because inflation was next to nothing."

Adding that the Tories will not immediately force the BBC to publish the salaries of its top presenters, Vaizey said a BBC strategy review was welcome but called for saving the corporation's embattled digital radio channel BBC 6.