CBeebies could be at risk if BBC licence fee is scrapped

THE chairman of the BBC has warned that CBeebies and other specialist channels could be at risk of being axed if the licence fee is scrapped.

Wednesday, 12th February 2020, 4:23 pm
Updated Wednesday, 12th February 2020, 4:24 pm
In the Night Garden is one of CBeebies flagship shows. Picture: Cbeebies

Sir David Clementi is set to warn against replacing the fee with a Netflix-style subscription model.

He will say putting the BBC behind a paywall would lead to it no longer being the public service the nation ‘knows and values’.

Sir David is due to give a speech in Salford and it is expected that he will warn that scrapping the licence fee would potentially spell the end for channels such as CBeebies.

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He is expected to say that a subscription-based service would be unlikely to provide the same level of regional and local coverage, specialist children's programmes and investment in ‘in home-grown ideas and talent, to the benefit of our whole creative sector’.

Insisting the corporation is open to debate and ‘broad conversation’ about its future, he will caution that people must be reminded what is at stake before any decisions are made.

He will list examples of huge national events such as royal weddings, as well as popular television shows like the Gavin And Stacey Christmas special which would no longer be accessible to all.

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He will say: ‘Sitting behind a paywall, it would no longer be the place that brings the country together - for the Strictly final, or Gavin & Stacey on Christmas Day, or the Armistice Anniversary or Holocaust Memorial.

‘Nor would it be the place that all could turn to celebrate live important moments we enjoy as a nation: Royal Weddings or Jubilees, or Olympic successes.

‘Nor, of course, would it continue to contribute to the £250 million, currently taken from the Licence Fee, to fund the World Service.

‘This cost would revert to Government.’

CBeebies was launched 18 years ago in 2002.

He will say: ‘The BBC will engage fully with the Government's consultation, but it must be based on the evidence.

‘A decision of this scale, taking hundreds of millions out of the BBC and the creative economy, must not be taken in isolation.’

Culture Secretary Nicky Morgan has signalled the possible end of the TV licence fee, which underpins funding of the almost 100-year-old broadcaster, while denying the BBC is under ‘attack’.