BBC: Jacob Rees-Mogg calls for licence fee to be scrapped
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Tory MPs today called for the licence fee to be scrapped after the BBC reinstated defiant Gary Lineker. The Match of the Day host sparked controversy after he took to Twitter to brand the Government’s plans to tackle migrant Channel crossings as “immeasurably cruel” and compared the language used with Nazi Germany.
BBC Director-General Tim Davie this morning confirmed the football pundit will be returning to screens after he was stood down over the weekend.
But furious Conservative MPs have made fresh demands for the licence fee to be axed following the saga.
Former minister Andrea Jenkyns called on the Culture Secretary to carry out a review on BBC bias and for the £159-a-year fee to ultimately be ditched.
Ms Jenkyns told the Express: “I’d like to see the Secretary of State step in and do a full review of the BBC.
“It’d be great to see the stats of is it really value for money when you’re seeing presenters get that kind of salary, and what does it look like the bottom line, the profit and loss, what does it look like financially and on how biased it is or isn’t.
“And then I think it should go to subscription only. Why should people pay to be fed left-wing views when let’s face it, it should be unbiased.
She added: “I know when I’ve been on the media on the BBC, and lots of times when they said it would be fair and it be impartial. During Brexit it was a free for all. it’s like five against one. I really do think we need a review of the BBC.
“And I don’t think it’s with the times. Not everybody watches the BBC yet everyone’s got to have a TV licence. I think it’s got to get with the times, with Netflix and the likes of Prime. I think it’s an outdated system, it’s a way of taxing people and I think we’ve got to get with the times.”
On Mr Lineker’s criticism of the Government’s Illegal Migration Bill, Ms Jenkyns said: “I really firmly believe that if you work for a taxpayer licence-funded TV broadcaster you should be impartial. And if you can’t be impartial go and work for some other broadcaster where you can be as free as you want.”
Ex-Business Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg echoed calls for the licence fee to be scrapped.
He told GB News: “I have long thought that the licence fee is a constraint on the BBC as it stops it earning revenues by subscriptions on the iPlayer, or by taking advertising.
“It leads to a heavily regulated media based around what the BBC needs and what is needed for a state-funded channel.
“And so, yes, I’m saying the licence fee has passed its sell-by date and it needs to go.”
He added: “There are so many different ways of watching recorded programmes now that you don’t invariably need a licence fee.
“I certainly wouldn’t pay a licence fee if you don’t need it.”
Blackpool South MP Scott Benton added: “The licence fee is a decades out of date, regressive tax which people shouldn’t have to pay simply to watch TV.
“I’ve long called for it to be scrapped. This self-inflicted chaos and their obvious unwillingness to enforce impartiality will only strengthen calls for the fee to go.”
Commenting on Mr Rees-Mogg’s remarks, Tory MP Tom Hunt added: “Sadly this has also been my view for some time.
“Times have changed. I sense there is growing support for moving away from the coercive nature of the licence fee. Clearly the chaotic handling of the Liniker affair hasn’t covered them in glory but it’s bigger than just that.”
The Beeb was thrown into crisis over the weekend when a series of presenters and pundits pulled out of shows in support of Mr Lineker.
Match Of The Day aired for only 20 minutes on Saturday without accompanying commentary or analysis from presenters, with Sunday’s edition following a similar format and running for a reduced 15 minutes.
Mr Davie today confirmed the 62-year-old will return to Match of the Day this Saturday as he announced a review of the BBC’s social media policy.
There are also reports that the corporation issued a grovelling apology directly to Mr Lineker.
In his statement issued on Monday, the director-general said: “Everyone recognises this has been a difficult period for staff, contributors, presenters and, most importantly, our audiences. I apologise for this.
“The potential confusion caused by the grey areas of the BBC’s social media guidance that was introduced in 2020 is recognised. I want to get matters resolved and our sport content back on air.”
In a series of Twitter posts this morning, Mr Lineker described the past few days as “surreal”, adding that he was “delighted we have navigated a way through this”.
He also appeared to address the issue of migration again, saying his weekend “doesn’t compare to having to flee your home from persecution or war to seek refuge in a land far away”.
He added: “We remain a country of predominantly tolerant, welcoming and generous people. Thank you.”
In a further tweet, Mr Lineker thanked Mr Davie for his “understanding during a difficult period”.
He said: “He has an almost impossible job keeping everybody happy, particularly in the area of impartiality. I am delighted that we’ll continue to fight the good fight, together.”
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