Andrew Neil urges BBC to launch subscription service Business

The BBC must turn hit shows such as Strictly Come Dancing into a subscription service or risk “stunning” throughout the 2030s, veteran broadcaster Andrew Neil has said.

Mr Neil warned that the company’s £159 annual license fee is too low for it to compete with deep-pocketed US streaming services.

Appearing before the House of Lords, he instead proposed an alternative model where public service broadcasting is funded by the taxpayer to pay for news, documentaries, children’s television, Radio 3 and 4, arts coverage, local radio, some “risky dramas” and major sporting events.

Meanwhile, a new subscription-style model could fund Auntie’s more commercial programs and “charts winners” like Strictly, while giving her the power to borrow more money to fund shows.

Speaking to Lords Communications Committee, Mr Neil said: ‘It is actually quite remarkable how the BBC has continued to operate. Few other public services have received a 30 per cent cut in real terms and succeeded in doing what they were doing.

“The most comfortable solution is to continue with the license fee, and I suspect that is what will happen again. But the BBC is one of our great national assets and it is also what defines us for the rest of the world. […] and we have reason to be proud of it.

“But you need to have a proper debate about ‘is this the right way to go? “”

Mr Neil, who left the BBC two years ago when The Andrew Neil Show fell victim to broadcaster budget cuts, added that short-term disruption would be a price to pay for long-term stability.

He said: “Although it may be comfortable [now]at the end of the line what can attract […] it’s that you don’t have the money, the resources, the technology, the structure to survive in this new world of broadcasting, from multichannel to streaming to global.

“At least consider it. Because [a new model] can salvage the best and create a BBC that can thrive, rather than just staggering year after year into the 2030s.”

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This notice was published: 2022-05-17 17:46:52

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