The chairman of the BBC Trust, Sir Michael Lyons has said that new news of the licence fee being frozen for six years “will present us with some difficult choices.”
In the government comprehensive spending review which was published today confirmed that the licence fee will remain frozen at ?145.50 until 2016/17. The BBC Trust chairman, Sir Michael Lyons has spoke today of the announcement and tough decisions that they will have to take over the coming years.
“This is a tough settlement, but it’s also a settlement that delivers certainty and stability for the BBC and licence fee payers through to 2016/17. It reflects the centrality of the licence fee in securing and safeguarding public service broadcasting. We recognise the importance of securing such a settlement at such an unprecedented time.
There is no doubt that the settlement will present us with some difficult choices, but importantly, these choices will remain firmly in the hands of the BBC Trust and we will of course seek the views of licence fee payers.”
It has also been confirmed that the television licence fee will fund the BBC World Service, which had been from the foreign Office. A controversial decision for the BBC to fund the Welsh language television service S4C has been met with strong opposition. The chairman of the S4C governing body is said to be angry and that he had no prior knowledge to the announcement, according the Media Guardian.
Sir Michael Lyons also spoke of the extra responsibilities that he BBC now has. “The settlement also seeks to secure the long term future of broadcasting in the Welsh language through the extension of a partnership with S4C. The BBC is not government funded, but these are pressing times for the nation as a whole, and we believe licence fee payers would expect us to see what contribution we can properly make.The extra responsibilities the BBC will now take on are consistent with this and will deliver benefits to licence fee payers across the UK.”
The BBC director general has also said that their focus is to provide high quality programming valued by the public. Mark Thompson said “This is a realistic deal in exceptional circumstances securing a strong independent BBC for the next six years. It means that efficiency and reform will continue to be key issues for us. But our focus remains providing distinctive, high quality programmes valued by the public. This deal will safeguard that until 2017.”