BBCThe BBC Trust has issued a press release following comments by Conservative leader David Cameron on the BBC Licence fee.

The BBC Trust has released a press release regarding comments made by Tory leader, David Cameron, earlier today regarding the licence fee. During a press conference Cameron said the BBC licence fee should not rise this year and instead be freezed due to the recession.

BBC Trust Press Release:

Like David Cameron, we agree that a stable BBC and one that is funded by a licence fee is critical to the future of Britain’s creative industries, and to delivering world-class public service broadcasting to the British public. The BBC must live within its means, but unplanned reductions in the licence fee could put services at risk which would not be in the interests of licence fee payers.

Funding stability is important to the BBC’s creative and editorial independence. It is a unique privilege which carries big responsibilities to deliver high quality programmes and services and to play a leading role in digital switchover. As the public face the reality of a recession, the BBC has an even greater responsibility to demonstrate to them that the 39p a day it receives from every licence fee payer is working hard and being spent to deliver something of real value to them.

This year’s increase is part of a six-year licence fee settlement, decided and announced by the Government in January 2007, which includes flexibility in the final year where the fee has not yet been set. The licence fee increases are partly designed to fund the digital switchover programme, which includes help and support for the most vulnerable in society in making the transition to digital television.

The BBC is committed to delivering more for less, and has been set tough efficiency targets by the BBC Trust that it must achieve over the licence fee settlement. These amount to 15% by 2012/2013, equalling £1.9 billion over the period, and will be achieved without jeopardising the programmes and services that audiences love.

The BBC also faces new demands because of the recession. It has a vital role to play supporting other parts of the industry. Now more than ever, the public will look to the BBC for the kind of programmes, including drama and factual, which others simply aren’t making. We are now engaged in a series of partnership initiatives which will help other broadcasters and programme makers. They include the proposals announced last week to share facilities with ITV regional news across England and Wales. These partnerships are additional responsibilities which were not envisaged at the time of the licence fee settlement.

On behalf of licence fee payers, the Trust will continue to ensure that the BBC serves all audiences, lives within its means and, through partnerships, brings the benefits of public investment to the whole broadcasting sector.”

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