Campaigners protest against possible end of BBC licence fee

Protesters wore Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings masks

Monday, March 9, 2020

Protesters have gathered outside the BBC headquarters in London to demonstrate against the idea of potentially ending the BBC licence fee.

The government has recently suggested that the obligatory television licence used to pay for the national broadcaster could be scrapped and replaced by a subscription service.

But activists from the public ownership campaign group We Own It rallied today to “push back” against the possible move, donning masks to look like Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his chief adviser Dominic Cummings.

The organisation’s director Cat Hobbs called the corporation a “national treasure”, praising its “unparalleled impact on our culture and understanding of the world”.

She said: “As the UK forges a new path after Brexit, we should be proud of our fantastic globally respected British institutions like the BBC.

“It is utterly staggering that the government would want to strip that back and leave us without the wonderful contribution the BBC makes.”

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said 'we must defend' the BBC

The campaigners launched the It's Our BBC campaign and a petition at the event.

They gathered for a symbolic “game of Whack-A-Mole” on BBC programmes, after the government was reported to be intent on wanting to “whack” the BBC.

The broadcaster has recently faced calls to modernise, with the government launching a consultation on decriminalising the evasion of the licence fee.

Last week the Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden told media leaders that while the BBC was “an institution to be cherished”, it must avoid a “narrow urban outlook”.

But the corporation’s director general Lord Tony Hall defended the licence fee model, saying it means that “you've got to give something to everybody,” providing “a fantastic creative challenge”.

Boris Johnson’s spokesman has said the Prime Minister does not want to scrap “all licence fees” at this stage.

However, from June this year, the current scheme of all over-75s receiving free TV licences will be restricted to those who claim pension credit.

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