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EDITIONS
Monday, 28 October, 2002, 10:32 GMT
Licence fee 'should be abolished'
EastEnders
The BBC made 561 hours of drama on BBC One last year
More than half of people polled about the BBC licence fee believe it should be abolished, according to a survey conducted for the Daily Telegraph newspaper.

Fifty-eight percent of those surveyed said the proliferation of satellite and cable services has rendered obsolete the 112 fee, which pays for all of the BBC's TV, radio and online services.


The BBC would be wise to address the issue (of funding) before public support erodes further

Daily Telegraph editorial

However, a third of the 2,055 people polled said the fee was "as necessary as ever" and was vital in maintaining standards on television.

A BBC spokesman told the newspaper that the poll's results did not tally with the corporation's own research, which showed the "vast majority of people think the licence fee, at 31p a day, offers tremendous value for money".

He added: "The BBC provides an incredible range of programmes and services through television, radio and online which other funding models simply could not support."

Tessa Jowell
Jowell appears to have ruled out scrapping the fee by 2006
The poll results prompted John Whittingdale, the shadow culture secretary, to argue there was "growing dissatisfaction" with the fee.

Four out of 10 households in the UK had digital television before the collapse of ITV Digital earlier this year.

Freeview, a new digital terrestrial service, is expected to be launched on 30 October by the BBC in conjunction with transmission company Crown Castle.

Earlier this year, Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell said the prospect of funding the corporation without the licence fee lay "somewhere between the improbable and the impossible".

Her comments seemed to rule out the possibility of scrapping the licence fee when the BBC's charter expires in 2006.

'Freedom'

The BBC is overwhelmingly funded by the 2.3bn a year it receives from TV households paying the licence fee.

In its editorial the Daily Telegraph, which has been campaigning for the licence fee to be removed, wrote: "The BBC would be wise to address the issue (of funding) before public support erodes further."

In a letter in the Daily Telegraph, Jocelyn Hay, chairman of the television pressure group Voice of the Listener and Viewer, backed the use of the licence fee.

"Funding via the licence fee gives the BBC freedom from commercial pressure and relative freedom from political pressure," the letter read.

See also:

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