In Brief

BBC licence fee to increase by £3 from April

Announcement follows calls for the fee to be made voluntary

The price of the annual TV licence fee will increase by £3 on 1 April, the BBC has announced.

The fee is set by the government, which said in 2016 that it would rise in line with inflation for five years from April 2017.

The increase will mean the annual charge will rise from £154.50 to £157.50. The cost change will not currently have an impact on the free over-75s TV licence, the broadcaster confirmed.

The London Evening Standard reports that the announcement comes less than a week after the broadcaster announced plans to cut 450 newsroom jobs in a bid to “modernise” and save £80m.

It also follows Match Of The Day host Gary Lineker - the highest paid star at the BBC - saying that buying a TV licence should not be compulsory.

The former England footballer, who earned £1.75m from work for the BBC in 2018-19, said that if you made purchasing the licence optional, “you would lose some people, but at the same time you'd up the price a bit”.

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Lineker told The Guardian: “I've always said for a long time, I would make it voluntary. I don't know the logistics of how it would work. [The licence fee] is the price of a cup of coffee a week at the moment. If you put it up you could help older people, or those that can't afford it.”

In December 2019, Boris Johnson said he was “looking at” abolishing the licence fee. “At this stage we are not planning to get rid of all TV licence fees, though I am certainly looking at it,” the PM said in the run-up to the December general election.

The Daily Express reports that Solihull MP Julian Knight has put a proposal to review the licence fee “at the heart of his campaign to be elected chairman of the powerful Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee”.

Comparing the licence fee to a “poll tax”, former newspaper and BBC journalist Knight told the newspaper: “It’s time for a root and branch, no holds barred review into the future of the BBC – how it is funded and what its role should be in our national life.”

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