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27 October 2013

Shapps says BBC could lose its license fee

The Tory chairman said that the BBC could lose its right to the license fee if it doesn’t tackle its “culture” of secrecy, reporting bias and waste

By Sophie McBain

The Conservative Party chairman Grant Shapps has said that the BBC could lose its right to the license fee if it doesn’t tackle its “culture” of secrecy, reporting bias and waste.  In an interview with the Sunday Telegraph, Shapps said that BBC executives were “in danger of frittering away Auntie’s public trust”, due to rows over high executive pay-offs, and the Jimmy Saville and Stuart Hall scandals. He also accused the BBC’s home affairs editor Mark Easton of failing to present the government’s position fairly.

Shapps suggested that the BBC’s licensing fees, which are worth over £3.5bn, could be reduced in 2016 when the BBC’s Royal Charter is due to be renewed unless the BBC reforms. He added that the BBC could be forced to bid alongside other news providers for its share of the licensing fee.

A BBC spokesman said: “Mr Shapps is right that transparency is key to the future of the BBC. So is its freedom from political pressure” and said that Easton’s report was “fair” and that he had a “long record of reporting without fear or favour”. 

Speaking on the Andrew Marr show this morning, deputy leader of the Labour Party Harriet Harman said it was “wrong” for Shapps to weigh in on this debate. She said he was using the upcoming Royal Charter review to put “put pressure” or the organisation because “the Conservatives are somehow trying to blame the BBC for the fact that that they are having to report that the government is not succeeding.”

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